A BETTERMENT Properties appeal over 33 homes at Wakeham, Portland, has been rejected by a Planning Inspector.

Dorset Council had refused the application for a the semi-rural site west of 86-126 Wakeham in September 2022 for phase 5 of the Windmills development.

The site is south east of Tesco and said to be an important local open space, loved by dog walkers.

In upholding the council’s decision the Inspector said the proposal was not only outside the recognised development boundary for the area but did not fit in with the Local Plan policies to prioritise developments in built-up areas rather than in open spaces.

The site is recognised as an Important Local Gap and widely used by dog walkers and other pedestrians – a point made by the Portland Association, Town Council and Weymouth Civic Society.

Part of the site also falls within the Bottom Coombe Quarries Site of Nature Conservation Interest.

The Inspector said there was concern about the loss of limestone grassland on the southern part of the site, an important element of the conservation area.

Said the Inspector’s conclusions: “I am not satisfied that the scheme has been designed so as to avoid the calcareous grassland in the first instance. On the contrary. The proposal would result in the removal of the entire 0.07ha of calcareous grassland within the appeal site, to be replaced with roads, buildings and gardens associated with the development proposal.”

The Inspector acknowledged that the building company had proposed mitigation measures which might have increase the amount of grassland overall, but said the first consideration should have been to avoid the loss.

The Inspector’s report said that the Betterment proposals: “would preserve the character and appearance of the Portland (Easton, Reforne, Straits and Wakeham) Conservation Area,” but concluded that some houses would be closer to each other than the generally accepted 20 metres, although adding that this had limited weight: “insufficient to alter my conclusions, that overall living conditions would not be unacceptably compromised.”

Concerns had also been raised during the two-day hearing in January, which included a subsequent site visit, that proposed alterations to rights of way across the site would adversely affected for those wanting to walk in the area with the proposed access route to the site described by some objectors as "tortuous".