THE developer behind Dorchester’s Brewery Square scheme says it is ‘full steam ahead’ for the project after the latest planning application was backed by councillors.

An amended proposal for phase 2B of the town centre development was given the go-ahead by West Dorset District Council’s development control committee.

The approval, which is subject to conditions, comes a month after the application was pulled from a committee meeting at the last minute due to a late submission by rival town centre developers Sim-ons, which is responsible for the Charles Street scheme.

Simons claimed that the new proposal, which included pl-ans for five extra retail units as well as increasing the size of a number of existing units, would threaten the viability of its scheme.

However, having considered the submission made by Simons, council planning officer Andrew Martin still recommended approval for the Brewery Square application – which also included increasing the number of beds in the proposed four-star hotel and converting a proposed nursing accommodation unit into 11 town houses.

Councillor Stella Jones agreed with Mr Martin’s report that the proposal would not impact on the viability of Charles Street and backed his view that the Brewery Square scheme presented a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity to regenerate this site’.

She said: “The retail is only going to increase by another five shops and nothing is going to exceed 300 square metres.”

After members unanimously backed the proposal Andrew Wadsworth, director of Waterhouse which is developing the former Eldridge Pope brewery site in partnership with Resolution Property, said it was time to look forward.

He said: “The whole thing is about getting on with it and we saw what happened last month as a blip.”

Mr Wadsworth said the approval of the planning application would help deliver the kind of scheme that residents and retailers want to see at Brewery Square.

He said: “It’s better for the townscape and vitality and from the point of view of feeling more vibrant.

“The original planning permission was given in November 2007, but those plans actually went in late 2005 so seven years later we have learned quite a lot about what people want, both retailers and residents.”

With phase 2A, which includes the main square and cinema, due to be completed in October Mr Wadsworth said the latest approval meant the development – which will eventually create around 700 jobs – could then move straight into the next phase and carry on the momentum of the project.

He added: “It’s full steam ahead.”