Statement on the Employment Land at Vearse Farm

We have had a lot of questions about whether the employment land on Vearse Farm will actually be used for employment/business purposes or ultimately end up being used to build yet more houses. The owner of the land has issued the following statement. Please let us have your thougts on this statement. In particular do you feel it gives you any more confidence in what will happen to the “employment land”?

Statement on the Employment Land at Vearse Farm
The Symondsbury Estate continues to own all the land allocated for
Employment (including care home and local centre) and is now
considering the future of that land as part of their wider vision for the
village of Symondsbury and the Estate of which this land has long been an integral part.
Symondsbury already runs two small business parks and takes seriously
the future of Symondsbury village, Bridport and the surrounding area, the need for employment, and to support the local way of life and the obvious attractive character of the area.
Symondsbury consider it important properly to consult the next
generation on the development appropriate to meet the future vitality of
the village and town and this will take time to be completed. The Estate
also recognise that until the roundabout on the A35 and access is formed, due to the obligations of the neighbouring housing development, that nothing can be delivered or promised, and it would be unwise to raise expectations to do so too early.
Hallam Land have no residual interest in the Employment land; and so, it
is BDW/Vistry as the major landowner, and any other relevant parties,
who should engage with Symondsbury on matters of design, landscape
and planning as these topics are brought to bear on the employment area of the scheme in the context of the much more extensive profile of the residential development and over which Symondsbury have no control.
Please engage with Symondsbury Estate via their agent Chesters
Harcourt.
Dated 21 July 2021
Chesters Harcourt contact is Philip Kerr 01823 444097 or [email protected]

Watton Lane/Broad Lane planning applications saga

The house building mania in and around Bridport continues. You might have thought with the Vearse Farm plan for 760 houses (which the local plan wants to raise to 930 houses) there would be a reticence from Dorset Council to approve yet more housing particularly on land designated as AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). But further house building plans and work continues on many sites.

The reality is that we are seeing a progressive urbanisation of Bridport without the investment in or capacity for the necessary infrastructure. Bridport’s status as a small market town counts for nothing with the council seeing it as an easy and desirable place to meet their government imposed housing targets.

An application to build a single bungalow on a field adjoining Watton Lane and Broad Lane was approved in 2018. This field is AONB designated and forms part of the panoramic view from West Bay.

It does not matter to the council that Broad Lane is totally unsuitable (largely single track, no footpaths, no lighting etc) for more housing or that the occupants will have to be car users making a mockery of their climate emergency declaration and intention to only build houses in sustainable locations.

In 2019 a further application was made for 2 more houses. The planning committee for the reasons given were totally unimpressed and rejected the application by an 8 to 1 majority. However, an appeal was made by the land owner, Mr Norman, who was in the news recently when he was fined for multiple food hygiene breaches after his Bradpole based slaughterhouse was found to be significantly unclean.

Despite all the objections the planning inspector decided to grant the appeal and approve the planning application ignoring local democracy and the firm views of the councillors on the planning committee.

Now the saga continues with a further application to increase the number of houses to three – two of which are 4 bed houses covering a much larger area than in the original application.

It looks like there is a “salami” style process going on where new applications are made for increasing number of houses in the expectation that the planning committee/officers will find it difficult to refuse each successive increased application having approved the previous one. It should be noted that the site could potentially allow for 20+ dwellings!

The councils actions are scandalous – this application has been marked for delegated approval and will therefore not come before the planning committee preventing neighbours and other interested parties from presenting their objections in person. Also the notification of the application has not been sent to neighbours. It almost seems the council want to get this application through on the quite with the minimum of objections.

So much for just one bungalow in the corner of the field!

So what can you do? Please help to get this latest application properly considered and refused by:

Going on to the council planning website and putting in your objections. The link below takes you to the application (P/FUL/2021/01762) and you can click on the box at the bottom right of the page to make comments on the application. The deadline is 1 September so please be prompt.

https://planning.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/plandisp.aspx?recno=236530

Emailing the following with a request that there is proper consultation with the application being discussed in public at a committee meeting. Just quote the application number in your email and say you object.

Mr Shortell,Chair of planning – [email protected]

Mr Pipe, Vice Chair – [email protected]

Mike Garrity Head of planning – [email protected]

Vearse farm/pine view pedestrian/cycle link

A planning appication has been made for the construction of a pedestrian/cycle link between Pine View and the Vearse Farm development (granted outline planning permission in May 2019 under planning reference WD/D/17/000986).

This link is essential for providing a route from the development into the town without using the busy and dangerous West Road. There are however issues in relation to Pine View which is very congested with parked vehicles and through traffic avoiding the busy West Road into the town. Naturally there are concerns that introducing further pedestrian and cycle traffic into Pine View could make matters worse and increase risks to pedestrians, cyclist and mobility scooter users.

If you have any concerns or comments in relation to this planning application then please look at this application on the Dorset Council website (https://www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/planning-buildings-land/planning/planning-application-search-and-comment) using application number P/FUL/2021/01895.

You will then be able to add your coments and also look at comments lodged by others.

ADVEARSE MEETING WITH THE DEVELOPERS OF VEARSE FARM – MONDAY 10 MAY 2021

Members of the steering group held an on-line meeting with representatives from the developers of the Vearse Farm site. We were pleased that they had initiated contact with us as part of their community engagement.

Kathryn Pennington from Vistry Partnerships and David Matthews from Barratt David Wilson Homes are senior Directors in the South West. At the meeting we explained about the activities of ADVEARSE over the past 8 years and how our objectives as an organisation had developed as the situation moved on We reiterated that our reasons for opposing the scheme held good but that our approach was essentially constructive. We stressed that our current objectives were to ensure that Bridport should gain maximum benefit from whatever develops on the site.

We were able to ask questions about the Barratt / Vistry ( Thereafter B& V ) plans. We explored areas which are of most concern to us and those whom we represent. These included traffic and environmental issues. We stressed our expectation that the Dorset Council planning process should give sufficient time for consideration of the detailed plans . We welcomed the prospect of a website which will give local people information about the overall scheme and more detailed plans as they emerge. Despite the constraints of the ongoing pandemic Barratt and Vistry appear committed to consultation.

The following may be of interest

  • B&V are working with Highways England on plans for the roundabout at Miles Cross .
  • B&V are only providing the houses and school .The employment land and care home will be developed separately by the landowners.
  • B&V said that they are committed to using a Fabric First approach which is recognised as best practice in terms of energy efficiency and building practices.
  • Affordable housing – B&V are committed to providing the full amount per the S106 and hope to be able to exceed this amount up to a figure of approximately 40% of the total number.
  • The detailed planning phase is expected to be completed and approved by end 2021 and work on VF infrastructure will commence in early 2022.
  • B&V are willing to consider suggestions from local residents/groups for improvements in the detailed plans
  • The additional 170 houses on VF in the current local plan which is out for consultation are not on land that B&V are building on.
  • B&V have a sales name of Foundry Lea and consultation website of www.foundrylea.co.uk which will be going live shortly.

We found the representatives to be open and we have established the basis for ongoing discussions and communication. Please use the ADVEARSE website to alert us to any issues which you think should be raised. Both organisations are working with the Bridport Town Council and Symondsbury Parish Council. You may also raise any questions with them.

The Vearse Farm development represents the largest single development in Bridport’s history. It is important that the local community engages to ensure that it can benefit the whole town.

VEARSE FARM SITE CONTRACT PLACED

We have received a letter dated 18th March from Barratt Developments plc and Vistry Partnerships saying that they have secured a contract for the Vearse Farm site to bring forward the open market and affordable homes, associated infrastructure and all S106 obligations as contained within the outline planning consent.

The letter is an introduction and providing a point of contact.

The companies have also offered to have a virtual meeting to discuss any questions we might have at this stage. We have already replied to say that we will take them up on this offer.

Our next Advearse team meeting is on 29th March when we will discuss the questions and concerns that we want to raise with Barratt/Vistry.

If you have any questions that you would like us to raise then please email us or leave a comment on the website.

We will provide a web post on the questions we will be raising and we will provide feedback on the responses we receive.

Our letter to Environment Agency

Below is the text of the letter sent to the Environment Agency and Dorset Council. We will post an update when we get responses.

Flood Risk at Vearse Farm Bridport – Request for Information

We are writing to both the Environment Agency and the Planning team at Dorset Council for an update on the flood risks presented by the proposed massive housing development at Vearse Farm.  We have made similar representations to both organisations in the past but feel that the situation has changed via the ongoing climate emergency. We note that Dorset Council is currently consulting residents on its strategy in this regard and hope that Vearse Farm will reflect in practice the fundamentals of that strategy.

Since the Vearse Farm original application went in, national guidelines regarding flood risk, particularly in coastal regions, have been updated.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/flood-risk-assessments-climate-change-allowances#what-climate-change-allowances-are

We are aware that Hallam submitted to WDDC a Flood Risk Assessment. WDDC did not check this assessment, Hallam simply had to tick the box of submitting one. We know this because a local resident with significant knowledge on this subject pointed out to WDDC flaws in the assessment and he was told that these would be sorted out at the ‘design stage’.

During this winter we have already seen the site flooded on several occasions. At such times we quote ruefully the lines we have been told about ‘once in a hundred years ‘. Try telling that to the people of Bedford who warned about building masses of new houses on the flood plain.

Of course, we know that houses will not be built nearest the river at Vearse Farm. The access roads do, however, have to cross land that is frequently under water.

Can you, therefore?

  1. Update us on the results of any recent surveys undertaken about the water table on the proposed site. Who will be reviewing the findings from the surveys?
  2. Which allowance category is Vearse Farm in using the latest guidelines?
  3. With reference to the Flood Risk Management correspondence 6th June 2017) could we also ask if the uplift of 40% (previously 30%) allowing for climate change is sufficient bearing in mind it was assessed four years ago. Does DEFRA guidance require a further uplift? This relates to the SUDS ponds and drainage. It is important because it may be several more years before this infrastructure is complete and they may be working with out-of-date figures as demonstrated by the uplift from 30% to 40%. 

(Within the supporting FRA (Rev 2) reference is made to the necessary allowance for climate change, with an uplift of 30% being identified within sections 4.23, 4.35 and 6 (3.48). However, given that the current document has been submitted in support of a new application (2017), the relevant uplift should be increased to 40% in accordance with current guidance (Defra).)

We note that some Essential Infrastructure in Flood Zone 2 and 3 are in the Upper End Allowance category of 85% uplift when taking into account the projected lifespan of the development of 80 years. Guidelines suggest that Exception Tests are required for development of Essential Infrastructure in Flood Zone 3a and 3b. How rigorously are Exception Tests verified and scrutinised by the authorities?

  • In the light of what appears an increased risk of flooding, how can you reassure us that the access roads will have the foundations and infrastructure to withstand frequent flooding.

Can you assure us that these have been checked following any recent surveys on the water table?

  • What are the long-term liabilities of both the EA and DC in the event of a major flooding event should their approval allow the development to proceed  the face of current concerns ?

In view of the importance of this issue to all Bridport residents, we have copied the letter to our local councillors and urge that this issue comes before the planning committee at the detailed planning stage.

I look forward to hearing from both organisations.  

Barry Bates

Chairman

ADVEARSE

Advearse drAFT comments on local plan

We have completed a draft response on the Dorset Council Local Plan. The full document can be accessed via the link below. We welcome comments on this response and will be submitting the final version to Dorset Council on 12 March. Also please feel free to use or refer to this document in your own response to Dorset Council.

http://www.advearse.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/ADVEARSE-response-to-Local-Plan-03-03-21.docx

Our main concerns as set out in more detail in our response are summarised below.

Consultation (Page 3)The Dorset Council Local Plan is not a fair and proper consultation. Specific housing plans are given but here are no options or alternatives for people to choose between. The consultation period should be significantly extended under delegated powers and the LP amended to provide strategic alternatives for people to select/comment on.
Housing (Page 4, 5,19)The Local Plan should reflect genuine local housing needs and not be driven by unrealistic and unnecessary government set targets that do not reflect the local situation. Dorset Council should make the case for locally appropriate housing numbers below central targets.
Climate Change/Environmental Protection (Page 5,7)The proposed Local Plan is not compatible with Dorset Council’s declared climate emergency, zero carbon commitments and responsibility for protecting the natural environment
Green Belt/AONB (Page 6)There is little credible support and no strategic policies for the protection of AONB (Area of Natural Beauty) land.
Flood Risk (Page 17)There is a lack of focus on reducing flood risk via Strategic Flood Risk Assessment and avoiding building houses in areas that will increasingly as a result of climate change be at risk of flooding.
Pollution (Page 14)Traffic pollution as a result of large scale housing estates is not taken seriously. The Local Plan must accept that where there are legally exceeded levels of NO2 an AQMA (Air Quality Management Area), will be declared (eg East Street, Bridport).
Expectations on developersA thread running through the plan is a soft approach to developer commitments. Requirements on developers should be mandatory and not optional.
Economy (Page 21)This section needs to be completely reassessed as there is no sense that employment will change radically in the next 20 years.
Transport (Page 24)Transport is the biggest contributor to carbon emissions in Dorset, but there is no credible plan for improving vehicle, cycling and pedestrian networks to achieve the essential reduction in carbon emissions whilst increasing the housing stock.

Making comments on local plan

We have been advised by a supporter that they experienced issues with accessing the Dorset Council website to make comments on the local plan.

The website was not working properly, in particular not saving submissions so people were losing work.

If you experience any issues when putting local plan comments on to the DC website then please advise us so we can make representations to DC. You can as we explained in our previous post email comments to DC.

COMMENTING AND RAISING OBJECTIONS ON LOCAL PLAN (UPDATE)

We have been asked by some supporters how to go about putting in comments/objections on the local plan. Below we set out to do this.

Follow this link to Dorset Council Local Plan page:

https://www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/planning-buildings-land/planning-policy/dorset-council-local-plan.aspx

There is a “Comment on Dorset Council Local Plan” box. Click on that and it will give you an opportunity to make comments. The system takes you to a comment box for each section of the Local Plan. You only need to comment on the parts you are interested in. Just leave the other sections blank.

Alternatively you can email your comments in to [email protected]council.gov.uk

Below is a link to Bridport Town Council’s page on the Local Plan and a video presenting a summary of the Local Plan. This is a really useful short video so please feel free to share this link with anyone else who may or should be interested.

The council’s response to the Local Plan is due to be publicly available after being signed off by their Planning Committee meeting on Monday 22 February.

The CPRE have also set out their concerns with the Local Plan and lack of proper consultation with the people of Dorset. See link below:

https://dorset-cpre.org.uk/news/current-news/item/2268-dorset-cpre-slams-local-plan

The most important section for us in the Local Plan is the West Dorset Functional Area – Section 36 – Bridport.

Vearse Farm plans are covered in Section 36.5.3 which notes “The whole Vearse Farm site could deliver around 930 new homes. This includes about 760 on the main consented part of the site with around a further 170 homes on three residual sites, namely: land at Vearse Farmhouse; land west of Coronation Road; and land to the west of Pine View”.

As a result of losing the judicial review the 760 houses are now “consented” and cannot be opposed/stopped. However, the proposed extra 170 houses will need Outline Planning Permission. The issue for us is that if these extra houses remain in the Local Plan and it is approved by the planning inspector then it will be extremely difficult to stop them from receiving planning permission. Even if we could persuade the Planning Committee to go against their own planning officer recommendation and refuse the planning application the developer could appeal and the Planning Inspectorate would inevitably side with the developer.

So our best chance to oppose this expansion of the VF urban extension is by trying to get it dropped from the Local Plan. To have any chance we need to build up a groundswell of opposition. So the more supporters sending in objections the better! So please ask family/friends to also object.

Points to bear in mind are:

  • The housing planned for Bridport totals 1,139 which is 75% of all the houses included in the plan for the whole of West Dorset. Given the area this is a huge focus on Bridport, which is by many measures is a small market town.
  • The housing target for Dorset for the next 17 years is 30,481 as set by government, but Dorset Council are proposing 39,285 houses. So they plan to build 8,804 (29%) more houses than required by the government!
  • Central government’s housing targets are 47% higher than the existing Local Plans in Dorset and  are way in excess of any sensible forecast of local housing need.
  • The Government’s targets and algorithm are based on outdated and flawed population and household projections.
  • The central housing targets are unrealistically high not least because the central algorithm increases assessed local housing need by 40% to reflect high house prices. The apparent justification for this increase in numbers is that if you build more, then prices will come down!

In addition there are plenty of other grounds for opposing the expansion to the VF urban extension: further building on and erosion of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), increased flood risk of the site and surrounding area, extra load on overstretched Bridport infrastructure (eg car parking in town centre), increased traffic volumes on an unsuitable road (West Road), increased traffic risk to pedestrians/cyclists and failure to provide suitable affordable eco housing for local people.

We will be putting our own draft comments on the Local Plan on our Advearse website early March for our supporters to see and submit our final comments to Dorset Council by their 15 March deadline.

Campaign Site