LANDOWNERS at Dinah’s Hollow, Melbury Abbas are expected to be forced to sell their land to allow an £8million road safety scheme to go ahead.

Talks have been going on with two landowners on either side of the road, since 2021, without a conclusion.

The cost of the project, which will lead to the road being closed while the works are carried out has soared from £4.5million in the time negotiations to buy the land have been taking place.

Road slips on the section has led to previous temporary closures with a one-way system in place and concrete barriers currently protecting the C13 road  - one of the main north-south routes in Dorset.

Dorset Council’s Cabinet has unanimously backed proposals to use Compulsory Purchase to buy the land either side of the deep hollow to allow work, agreed in 2020, to go ahead.

The scheme will include using ‘soil nails’ to hold the land in place together with a drainage plan and landscaping.

Dorset Council believes it can deliver the scheme and prove a positive environmental benefit overall, although some trees and vegetation will need to be cut back.

Said an officer report to Tuesday evening’s Cabinet meeting: “Dorset Council continues to negotiate with the owners to agree the purchase of the required land and interests. However, given the safety concerns at Dinah's Hollow, the Council cannot wait for negotiations to break down before commencing the compulsory purchase process and therefore, it will be necessary to make a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO).”

The same report says that to not carry out the work would risk loss of life, or serious injury, to road users, possible legal action against the council and disruption on the important north-south highway route.

No timescale has been agreed for the works with the Compulsory Purchase Orders needing to be first approved by the Secretary of State. A special licence is also needed to move and resettle protected dormice living in the area and may also require similar measures to deal with resident bat and badger populations.

Dorset Council leader Nick Ireland told this week’s Cabinet meeting that £4.5million had been put aside when the project was agreed but since 2021 there had been ‘significant’ cost increases for construction work which had pushed the 2025 estimate to £8million, the extra money to be found by ‘re-profiling’ the current highway budget over the next two years.

Ward councillor Jane Somper (Con , Beacon ward), pressed the Cabinet meeting for residents in the area to be kept fully informed of progress of the scheme and for the council to hold a public meeting to present its plans – requests which Cllr Ireland agreed.

She said the council would also need to publicise diversion routes, using the A350, and to ensure the main road and other local roads were protected while the C13 at Dinah’s Hollow was closed.