Category Archives: Articles in the Press

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
Dated 21 July 2021
Chesters Harcourt contact is Philip Kerr 01823 444097 or

New cases showing our flawed planning system

For those interested in planning, two interesting case studies have just popped up:

1)      A Devon council tried to refuse outline planning permission to a developer for 122 houses but the developer took it to appeal and the council lost because they hadn’t met their housing-land supply. As we know, developers can basically build where they like – permission is just a pretend formality – as is the Local Plan and the Neighbourhood Plan.

But Sevenoaks Council is trying to make a stand, they have failed to meet their supply because they refuse to build on greenbelt land but their LP has been rejected by the inspector:

As much as I really respect Sevenoaks Council for doing this and wish other council’s would do so too, I think statements like this:

‘We believe, whilst this is not the reason the inspector has given, failing to meet the government’s housing figure would potentially impact on subsequent Local Plans across the country.’

Are somewhat naïve as this has been going on for years under the last and present iterations of the NPPF.  They will undoubtedly be brushed off by the Secretary of State, as were ADVEARSE before our JR.  They may win any subsequent JR on the technicality that the inspector has rejected the plan because ‘it was not legally compliant in respect of the council’s duty to cooperate’, her main concerns being ‘the lack of constructive engagement with neighbouring authorities to resolve the issue of unmet housing need and the absence of strategic cross-boundary planning to examine how the identified needs could be accommodated’, whereas the council says its ‘Plan submission included more than 800 pages of evidence detailing how it had worked with neighbouring authorities during its production of the Plan’ and ‘that those councils and other organisations involved in its development supported the council’s evidence and approach.’  If the inspector had explicitly rejected the plan on the grounds of it failing to meet housing-land supply – the real reason for the rejection – then the judge would undoubtedly be able to uphold the decision.  However, if they win on a technicality, the inspector has only to reject it again citing the real reasons.

The real situation is what the council suggests: ‘If we are not to follow the evidence to make our Plan then the government may just as well dictate how many homes an area should have and then pick sites, we need to put an end to the thinly veiled charade that Local Plans are in any way locally led.’  If I were the leader of the council and the plan still gets rejected further down the line, I would be inclined to publicly rip it up and say, what’s the point, clearly developers can build where they like so we might as well leave it all to the free market and bin the pretence.

Sarah Carney, ADVEARSE

JR news coverage

There has been some local and national news coverage of the outcome of the JR. Links/cuttings for this coverage are listed below. Generally the coverage has been sympathetic.

Daily Telegraph article

Saturday 20th July saw an article in the Daily Telegraph outlining the campaign against the Vearse Farm urban extension to Bridport.

This national media coverage is very welcome and follows on from the recent BBC Spotlight feature.

Below is the link to the Telegraph article. In the meantime we continue with our judicial review and will provide an update once we have some news.

Our flawed planning system

One of the most repeated comments we hear in relation to Bridport’s (Vearse Farm) urbanisation is – “How on earth can this happen?”

It is incredibly difficult to understand how Dorset Council could possibly grant planning permission for this massive development on AONB land on the outskirts of Bridport. Also, grant this permission in the face of massive local people, Town Council and Parish Councils opposition.

But then articles like the one linked below demonstrate just how dysfunctional and corrupt the whole planning system is. Best to sit down when you read it as it is guaranteed to make your blood boil.

But there is something increasingly local communities are doing where disastrous planning applications are granted – using Judicial Reviews to challenge and overturn these terrible planning decisions. Please join us in our campaign to stop Bridport’s urbanisation.

Dorset Council Hypocrisy!!

Following on from an earlier post regarding Bridport Town Council declaring a climate emergency we now have Dorset Council doing the same! But in DC’s case this is just rank hypocrisy!

Below is the Bridport News article link:

The article says “DORSET Council has declared a ‘climate emergency’ following a morning of protests.” Also “A photo tweeted by the council showed that 69 Councilors were in favour of the motion, while two Councilors were against and six abstained from the vote.”

Talk about shameless virtue signalling and hypocrisy!

18 months ago West Dorset County Council (DC’s predecessor) Planning Committee passed Vearse Farm planning application in the teeth of massive opposition by 11 votes with one lone councilor objecting. Would DC now pass such a planning application with all the environmental and climate change damage?

Lets help Dorset Council recover their virtue by giving them a chance to halt the Vearse Farm development!

Help us raise the funds for the Judical Review and then DC can do the right thing – not oppose our JR and consign the massive and destructive VF plan in the dustbin. They can then get on with plans that don’t damage the environment and which actually provide genuine affordable housing for local people!

Bridport Climate Emergency

Bridport Town Council are considering declaring a climate emergency according to a Bridport News Article. The town council pledge to become carbon neutral by 2030.

This is a very laudable aim and as the Town Council say it will require Central Government and County Council support. But when you consider that over 20% of new houses sold on West Dorset are second homes or holiday lets how an earth can the destructive Vearse Farm major urbanisation of Bridport (imposed by Dorset Council and opposed by Bridport town Council) help achieve the town’s carbon neutral goal. After all second and holiday homes have to be heated in Winter even when unoccupied! What is needed is genuinely affordable houses for local people.

We have 24 days left to fund the Judicial Review and try and stop Vearse Farm urbanisation. Please help by going to our Crowdfunder appeal or donating directly (see our donations page).

Bridport News Article

Please find at the bottom of the page a link to the Bridport News article on the Judicial Review fundraising against the Vearse Farm development.

Dorset Council state the final outline planning approval for Vearse Farm has been confirmed following the signing of a Section 106 agreement. Also that the developers have been instructed to submit a phasing plan, to allow the development to proceed on a phased basis. It does not mention that this is a 10 year construction or that Dorset Council want to add another 170 houses to the development!

Interestingly there is no response to local residents plan for a Judicial Review against the development. It seems as far as Dorset Council and the developers are concerned there is no way for this massive and destructive development on AONB land to be stopped.

How fantastic it would be for us to prove them wrong! Please do what you can to support the fundraising campaign either with a direct contribution (see our donations page) or by going on to our Crowdfunder site

Bridport News Article 14 March 2019

CAMPAIGNERS are set to challenge a decision to approve planning permission for more than 700 homes near Bridport.

Residents have donated more than £5,000 towards the cost of a judicial review into West Dorset District Council’s decision to grant outline planning permission for the Vearse Farm development.

This amount will be doubled thanks to a match-funding grant from the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Dorset.

Chairman of campaign group Advearse, Barry Bates, said: “We are overwhelmed and humbled by Bridport’s generosity. We’re frequently given cheques for £100 and more and most donations are over £50.”

Advearse says its lawyers believe the planning consent can be challenged because, they allege, it contravenes national rules about building on an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and should be given ‘the highest possible protection’ from development.

A review will cost around £34,000 and, thanks to donations and match-funding, Advearse has £19,000 left to raise.

Mr Bates added: “The response to our leaflet drop has given us a renewed sense of responsibility. Bridport has shown that it is clearly united against this development which, despite its gross scale, will not deliver truly-affordable homes for local people and we will do our utmost to represent them.”

Advearse says it continues to receive a steady stream of donations and will launch an online appeal through the Bridport-based Crowdfunder website once a final decision notice has been issued by the council – but this will only give them a few weeks to make up any funding shortfall in order to make review application.

The group says it will continue to raise awareness of what it says are the ‘negative ramifications’ of the development and will hold a public meeting on Wednesday, April 24, at 7pm at the WI Hall on North Street, Bridport.

Members will update residents on the current situation concerning the application for the development. All are welcome to attend. For more information, contact

The Bridport and Lyme Regis News has contacted West Dorset District Council to request a comment.