JUST days after Dorset Council approved a plan for almost 500 homes off the Blandford bypass, for the second time, the application has been called in by the Secretary of State.

It will mean the decision on the Lewis Wyatt project now being taken again, possibly after a public inquiry.

Dorset Council officers had brought the application back to councillors because of changes in planning guidance largely around land designated as Natural Landscape value, previously known as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

There had been local support for the use of the site between Blandford and Pimperne which would have eventually brought a new school,  pub and other community facilities in addition to the new homes.

But there was also concern – about the loss of allotments and good quality farmland and the effect on Cranborne Chase.

READ MORE: Wyatt 500 homes scheme is approved off Blandford bypass

The call-in decision was made by Felicity Buchan, Minister for Housing and Homelessness, on behalf of the Secretary of State, Michael Gove.

North Dorset MP, Simon Hoare, had taken the rare step to appear before the Dorset Council planning committee and speak against the proposal.

The application asked for immediate full planning consent for 150 homes with public open spaces with a request for outline, or in principle, agreement for 340 homes to follow and to include shops, commercial spaces, sports pitches, a primary school, a pub and cafe.

The site is to the north and east of the Blandford bypass and includes an area of protected landscape.

Objectors had claimed that Dorset Council was acting against its own policies with the decision, including ignoring guidelines in the Pimperne Neighbourhood Plan.

Among the objectors was the Dorset Campaign to Protect Rural England group which asked councillors to reject the application, or at the least, wait until councillors had been trained on the changes to the planning rules before deciding.

The calling-in letter says the inquiry will focus on the extent to which the development is consistent with Government policies for the supply of homes, for conserving and enhancing the natural environment under the National Planning Policy Framework guidelines and the extent to which the proposed development is consistent with the local development plan for the area.

The news of the calling-in was greeted with relief by campaigners -  Richard Burden, Cranborne Chase Principal Landscape and Planning Officer, said: “Building 490 dwellings and other buildings on productive farmland in one of the nation’s finest landscapes does not protect that landscape, nor conserve and enhance natural beauty, as intended by the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act in 1949, so the CCNL welcomes the decision to call in the application for full and objective scrutiny.”

At the time of the last Dorset Council decision, by 5-1, for the scheme to go ahead, head of planning, Mike Garrity, told councillors that although the Secretary of State had asked to be informed of the council’s decision, the authority had not been instructed to do anything other than come to a conclusion in the normal way.

Planning officers argued that although the proposals do not comply with the area development plan the benefits of the homes and community facilities outweigh the negative points.