Dorset Council has recently said in your paper, that following receipt by the council of a special report on housing need numbers, 'exceptional circumstances' do not exist in Dorset to justify the council from departing from rigid, nationally imposed numbers for new houses in Dorset.

I am disturbed by a willingness by Councillor Walsh to slavishly follow a rigid formula, but what concerns me even more is that he is technically wrong at law.

The courts have it made clear, that while certain issues are properly a question of planning judgement, redefining Green Belt boundaries isn't one of them. It was held in one case 'Exceptional Circumstances' are required for any revision of a Green Belt boundary, whether the proposal is to extend or diminish the Green Belt.

Whilst each case is fact-sensitive and the question of whether circumstances are exceptional for these purposes requires an exercise of planning judgment, what is capable of amounting to exceptional circumstances is a matter of law, and a plan-maker may err in law if he fails to adopt a lawful approach to exceptional circumstances. Once a Green Belt has been established and approved, it requires more than mere general planning concepts to justify an alteration.

Many professional commentators are saying that the emerging draft local plan is a mish-mash of old ideas and is fundamentally unsound.

CPRE has called for a new Local Plan to reflect concerns for the climate, our precious landscape and homes for local people.

Dorset Council please take note!

Stephen Larcombe