On 4 August Dorset Council Western & Southern Planning Committee granted the reserved matters planning application for Foundry Lea (Vearse Farm).

This is a huge disappointment to Advearse who have campaigned for the last 9 years to have this plan refused because of its impact on an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) as well as the negative impact on a small market town with limited infrastructure to support the influx of over 2,000 new residents. This represents a massive 20% increase in the local population.

Dorset Council have justified this development on the basis that it is “appropriate” and in the authority’s housing plan. Serious concerns that Advearse have being raising over the last 9 years have been repeatedly dismissed or ignored by Dorset Council or its predecessor West Dorset District Council. The fact that the Vearse Farm development was included in the Local Plan was used as an excuse to force approval by the Planning Committee at the Outline Planning Application (OPP) in 2017. The fact that the OPP had been approved was used last Thursday to persuade the committee members that the plans were set in stone and that they could not be amended. Sadly only two councillors saw fit to object to the application and demand that more was done to at least make the application carbon neutral.

In 2019 Advearse challenged the OPP via a Judicial Review. Although building on the AONB is only allowed in exceptional circumstance the judge took the view that building housing in a county which has a large amount of AONB designated land was sufficient reason to dismiss our JR.

Since 2019 our focus has been on campaigning for the best outcome for Bridport from this development. Alongside others we have been able to prompt the developers to improve the detailed plans submitted in December 2021. The amended plans submitted in June 2022 do not go far enough in addressing the serious concerns raised and requests by us and others for further changes were rejected by council officers.

Astonishingly, instead of setting aside a full day for study and comprehensive discussion and debate on an application of such huge scale, which will massively affect the future of Bridport, the Council shunted this critical application into an agenda with several other minor planning issues. Moreover, in the last few days before the meeting – and despite strong urgent written objections from Advearse and individuals to the Chief Executive of Dorset Council – objectors were astonished to learn that the number of members of the public and organisations who would allowed to speak against the application would limited back to just six people, each having a mere 3 minutes to speak: 18 minutes for a 760 home application. Sadly, a councillor’s request there should be a Site Visit was then voted down.

As a result due to the negligence of Dorset Council this development as it stands will over the next decade see real risks and damage to the Bridport and its residents. Our continuing concerns include:

  1. Risk to pedestrians using narrow footpaths on busy roads walking from the development into the town centre given the large increase in traffic that Foundry Lea will bring.
  2. Lunacy of the current plans to allow construction traffic for the building site to go ahead at the same time as the building of the Miles Cross roundabout on the A35. This will greatly increase the risk to road users.
  3. The planners have ignored the Council’s own CLIMATE EMERGFENCY DECLARATION and will allow over 300 homes to be built with gas boilers. There is minimal provision for solar panels.
  4. As yet there are no plans actually agreed with Wessex Water regarding the management of the sewerage and ground water run off which the site will create with increase in discharges of sewage into the sea whilst the prospect of flooding elsewhere in Bridport and West Bay is ever more likely.
  5. At the approval meeting the planners could offer no guarantees from Western Power about whether it can provide for Bridport’s electricity needs once Foundry Lea is underway.
  6. Lack of any plans at all for the employment land promised as part of the mixed use development.

Advearse will be holding a meeting later this month to decide on our next steps and how we can hold the council and developers to meeting their promises to the people of Bridport.

Advearse would like to thank the individuals who have supported our campaign and also Dorset CPRE who have been steadfast in their opposition


The Foundry Lea (Vearse Farm) reserved matters application was granted by the Dorset Council Planning Committee this afternoon.

This is needless to say a great disappointment given the multiple issues and concerns raised by ourselves and many Bridport residents over a long period of time. The councillors on the committee also raised concerns but the council officers made it clear that the councillors had in effect little choice other than to accept the reserved matters application as it stood without any changes.

We will say more in due course about what transpired at the committee meeting and the serious concerns that were raised and how these were denied or circumvented. We will be issuing a press release and hope that the local media and newspapers will publish it.

We can now expect work to start on this development in the near future as the developers want to build/have started 318 houses by June 2025 (phase 1) to avoid having to meet the new 2025 building standards. The Miles Cross roundabout will commence early 2023 and take 6 months to complete.

Whilst there are positives from Foundry Lea such as the affordable housing there are many negatives for Bridport that will only start to be fully realised in the years to come.


Local people asking to speak against the Foundry Lea (Vearse Farm) reserved matters planning application on 4 August are being told that there is a limit of 3 people permitted to speak. A number of us have been told that the limit has been reached and so we are being silenced. The papers for the meeting are on the council website and the brief summary of objections made do not do justice to the large number of detailed objections made. We believe that the best way for the councillors on the planning committee to understand the depth of local concerns is to hear them first hand.

Please help with getting the council to change their mind by emailling the chair of the planning committee David Shortell ([email protected]) and the Chief Executive ([email protected]) to complain about this arbitrary rule and lack of local democracy. Please ask anyone else you know who may also be concerned to do the same.

Below is our email to Mr Shortell asking for his help in righting this injustice.

Dear Sir,

Ref: Committee Meeting 04 August 2022

I am writing to ask you to exercise the Chair’s discretion and allow all that wish to speak on the agenda item relating to Vearse Farm to do so.

I have been sent the guidelines which restrict speaker numbers to 3 in favour and 3 against the proposal. Whilst the restriction might be reasonable for a small development, I would argue that for an application of this size and of such public interest all who wish to should speak.

ADVEARSE has tracked responses to the revised plans and anticipates that numbers will be lower than those who spoke at the OPP stage. It may well be that numbers are manageable and even, if the meeting was as a result to last the full day, then it would surely be worthwhile in terms of local democracy. We have had criticisms about the consultation processes stretching back to the WDDC Local Plan. I can give you details of these if you wish.

I appreciate that Barratt and Vistry should be consulted before you agree to the request but they like Dorset Council have little to lose and much to gain by allowing full open discussion of the proposal.

It would be helpful to have a speedy response because some potential speakers may have been deterred by the limit on speakers and there is little time left to prepare and submit a request.

With best wishes

Barry Bates

Vearse Farm Planning Application Meeting on 4 August

The planning committee meeting to consider the reserved matters application for Foundry Lea (Vearse Farm) has been confirmed as 4 August and will be held in Dorchester.  The link below is for this notification and sets out details of the meeting and how to registrer in advance to speak at the meeting.

Click to access vearse-farm-planning-application.pdf

The notification refers to only 3 people being allowed to speak against the application. We challenged this with Dorset Counci and they have promised that there will be no limit applied.

This is the last opportunity for us to raise concerns about this massive housing development and the impact on Bridport. Our representations to this and previous applications have set out these concerns in detail and we know they are shared by many local people.  

Outline Planning permission was granted in 2017 and this means there is no realistic chance of this application being completely rejected by the planning committee. But there is scope with persuasion and effort to convince the planning committee to refuse the application as it stands and require major improvements or assurances which are in the best interest of Bridport and the local people. 

If they approve this application on 4 August then there is no chance of getting any of these improvements made. For example delivering the promised employment land as the houses are being built, improving the Bridport infrastructure to cope with the impact of 760 new houses/2000+ new residents (eg medical facilities, road/paths, parking, electric grid etc), tackling climate change issues (eg providing independent assurance on the resulting increase in flood risk, better use of renewable energy etc). 

Please do your best to attend the meeting and register to speak so you can make your views known directly to the planning committee members. We cannot rely on the Dorset council planning officer to properly represent local views. We know these will be presented in a very brief and dismissive way and buried deep in a written report amongst all the other papers provided to the committee.  

Please ask anyone else you know who is interested in looking after the best interests of Bridport to also attend and speak up! 


Revised Plans – Comment submitted by Barry Bates (note Advearse comment is being drafted and this is Barry’s personal comment)

I made a response to the original submission and, in framing this new response, I have examined the responses made by other individuals and organisations to the original submission and looked through the revised submission. Via ADVEARSE, I have been involved with correspondence with organisations such as Wessex Water and National Highways to explore the issues on which I am commenting. I am happy to supply further details as required.

I have no complaint about Barrett and Vistry who have been proactive and professional in their relationship with the ADVEARSE group. My complaint remains with the national planning process and the handling of this development by the planners in Dorchester. I am, however, grateful that the submission has been referred to the Planning Committee.

At the Outline Planning Stage, the Planning Committee were told that they were only to rule on the issue of access and that there would be a fuller opportunity to discuss the broader issues at the next stage. We are now at that stage, and I would urge Councillors on the Planning Committee to provide that democratic input into the decision-making process. I fully recognise that it would take a brave Council to decide to stop a development such as this at this stage.

I would, however, ask that the Planning Committee to

  1. Recognise that the scheme is inappropriate
  • It remains the largest development incursion into AONB ever in the country. Such developments in AONB should be granted in ‘exceptional circumstances. No such circumstances have ever been demonstrated at Vearse Farm.
  • Taken as a whole the responses to the original submission demonstrate that a massive development on this scale is inappropriate for a town the size of Bridport.
  • The site itself was, as Taylor Wimpey stated at the Local Plan stage, is inappropriate in so many respects.

A number of Councillors at the OPP decision voted in favour ‘with reluctance’. I am asking the members who will consider these revised plans to take on board the reservations which were expressed in the original consultation; to actively consider whether or not to approve the scheme and (if acceptance is inevitable) at least reflect in the decision the deep concerns of the residents they represent.

  • Withhold approval until the remaining concerning issues have been tackled and in doing so demonstrate that they can actually secure improvements.

The revised plans are largely to do with the Design Codes. Barrett and Vistry have indeed responded to the initial responses and the improvements made are to be welcomed. ADVEARSE has analysed the revised submission in relation to the other issues which attracted critical comment and questions in the original submission. We find most have not been addressed and, even worse, some of the papers in the revised submission are merely a rehash of those submitted in December2021.

The fact that the developers have improved the sections on the Design Code in response to criticisms should encourage the Committee to withhold approval in order to affect more improvements. This is such a major event in the history of Bridport and once approval is given it will be too late.

So why should the Planning Committee withhold approval?

  • There are no plans for the employment land. The scheme was passed as a mixed-use scheme and the number of houses were justified because of the new employment and additional benefits which will be brought to the town. Planning Committee should wait until the scheme as a whole is available for approval.
  • OFWAT has put Wessex Water on the list of water companies about which it has ‘serious concerns. The concerns that sewage will be discharged into the sea or rivers together with concerns about drainage of rainwater are very real. We have only the vaguest sketches of plans to deal with the extra created by Foundry Lea. I urge the Council to seek independent assessments on both issues before approving the scheme.
  • Climate Crisis – Barret and Vistry are racing to obtain approval so that they can avoid the upcoming challenges of new building regulations. Other respondees have written in great detail about what more could be achieved. Councillors should heed the crisis and demand a higher level of sustainability. At the very least we need greater clarity on 2 issues
  • What sources of heating will be used on the site?
  • Can Bridport’s electricity supply be guaranteed granted the extra demand FL will bring?
  • Although there are the window dressing items – allotments, riverside walk within the scheme- in reality, the scheme has not planned anything to manage the impact of all those households on the town as a whole. I would highlight just three
  • Car parking which is already over capacity on market days and in holidays
  • The dangers of access on the narrow pavements and road junctions from Foundry Lea into town from both Skilling and on West Road.
  • Medical services- Already the Ammonite Practice is writing to patients advising of the stresses the system is under. We cannot recruit GPs and Dentists to serve the current population.

I appreciate the reasons why the Planning Committee might feel pressured to approve this scheme. Yet there remain compelling reasons why the scheme, as it stands, remains a massive failure to plan a sustainable future for the area.

Updated planning statement – a useful read!

There are well over 200 documents on the planning portal for the Vearse Farm applociation. A lot of these are highly detailed and difficult to read/understamnd.

There is one document (Planning Statement Addendum) that sets out the changes to the planning statement. Although 32 pages long it is reasonably accessable and gives an overview of what the developers have changed since the original detailed planning applciation made at the end of last year.

It is not easy to find on the council planning portal so we have copied onto our website for ease of access. Please click on the link below to access it.

Click to access P-RES-2021-04848__220531_Planning_Statement_Addendum.pdf

Planning update – deadline is 8 July for comments

As noted earlier the revised plans are expected to be heard at the 4 August Planning Committee with a 3-week planning consultation.

We are concerned that Dorset Council have yet again failed to ensure that the public are being properly informed. We contacted them and their response was that they have put up 32 planning notices on lampposts etc around the site and that is sufficient to make the effected local people aware.

Of the hundreds of people who objected to the previous applications none have been contacted. Dorset Council say this is normal practice and only the statutory consultees are contracted.

We have requested that the application is properly publicised and a longer consultation period with the Foundry Lea application put back to a later planning committee meeting. Despite the massive impact on Bridport and surrounding area we have little expectation that anything else will be done by the council to raise awareness. There is no mention in the local media which we are trying to correct.

The current deadline for comments is 8 July so it is important to get your objections/comments made. This can be done via the Dorset Council planning portal:

We are currently drafting our response to the revised detailed plans and will be discussing these at our next meeting on 30 June. We will then post the draft response on our website by 3 July and issue a final version by 8 July.

We will be attending and speaking at the planning meeting on 4 August. There will be an opportunity for the public to take up to 3 minutes each to present their views to the committee. We encourage as many people as possible to attend and share their views.

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