CAMPAIGNERS are calling for a rethink of Dorset's Local Plan which they describe as 'damaging'.

Launching the ‘Dorset Deserves Better’ campaign in a bid to make changes and protect the countryside, groups believe there is a way to deliver a development plan for the future that enriches the county and serves the people of Dorset – especially the young and those most in need.

The plan seeks to shape the way the county will develop in the future – with a focus on further housing and the creation of jobs.

It has proved controversial with widespread criticism of Dorset Council for its willingness to take additional housing from the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole area – possibly as many as 9,000 extra homes, in addition to the 30,000 already being proposed.

Last week the council said it would consider revising the plan following an independent assessment on its housing need - there may be grounds to plan for alternative housing need figures, rather than those arising from the standard Government approach.

Now, 38 Dorset-based organisations – which they say represents more than 20,000 local people – have come together in a Campaign Alliance led by Dorset Climate Action Network (Dorset CAN) to press Dorset Council to rethink the plan.

In an open letter to council leader Spencer Flower, the Campaign Alliance states that the draft local plan would:

  •  Do great harm to Dorset, through adverse impact on its natural environment, landscape and historical character
  •  Fall short of meeting the needs of Dorset’s population for the right houses in the right place at the right price
  •  Fail to face up to the global challenges of climate change and reversing the loss of wildlife.

The Campaign Alliance notes that many respondents opposed the plan. It has suggested ways to transform the plan into a 'visionary programme' to serve local people.

Michael Dower, of Dorset CAN, said: “We sincerely hope to persuade Dorset Council to deliver an optimistic and forward-looking local plan that values our landscape, supports environmental regeneration, provides affordable housing for local families, reduces our carbon footprint and encourages a thriving green economy in Dorset. We believe this can be done within the existing regulations and without wholesale destruction of our green spaces. We hope to work with Dorset Council to achieve this.”

In its letter, the Alliance calls on the council to reduce the number of proposed new homes to 22,000 over the 17-year period of the plan, and to refuse to accept unmet housing need from BCP.

It says the council should avoid unnecessary building on greenbelt land or environmentally sensitive sites, put a stronger focus on local housing need by providing the 'right homes in the right place at the right price, and discourage holiday and second homes.