Category Archives: Articles in the Press

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 [email protected]

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

VF outline planning meeting news……..

Hopefully, this will be published in next weeks local papers……..

“Further to Roy Mathisen’s letter (BN August 24th) deploring the development of Vearse Farm, other than for inclusion of low-cost housing, we would like to publicise the following information.

We feel that the outline planning meeting destined for 12th October 2017 in Dorchester, should be held in Bridport and in the evening to enable attendance by residents who work.
We have invited West Dorset District Council to use alternative venues such as the Electric Palace or the Bridport Arts Centre. Because of the potential high attendance expected at this forthcoming meeting, it needs to be a large capacity venue.

Many of you no doubt, would be able to suggest other viable, alternatives.

Furthermore, somewhat alarmingly, we understand that this important Vearse Farm planning application, will be discussed with OTHER, ADDITIONAL planning applications, and not as a sole issue as per the recent St. Michael’s TE outline planning meeting. We are sure that WDDC would justify the South Walks House, Dorchester venue to encompass this, their proposed agenda.

We therefore ask the residents of Bridport to contact WDDC, specifically Andy Galpin ([email protected]) or Jean Marshall ([email protected]) or both, expressing the same sentiment as ourselves. Kindly, CC us on [email protected] so we can monitor the extent and sentiment of objections.

Make your sentiments known in this superb newspaper as well !

Please note, the date of the meeting may be further delayed if the current, oustanding objections by The Environment Agency and Dorset County Council; Highways Department are not finalised.

Many thanks

ADVEARSE Campaign Group”

Targeting the countryside-new research commissioned by CPRE

Targeting the countryside

New research commissioned by CPRE shows that a

loophole in national planning guidance is allowing

developers to bypass local democracy and gain planning

permission for large housing developments in the countryside.

The research was undertaken to address the impact of the

National Planning Policy Framework’s (NPPF) emphasis on the need

to ‘significantly boost housing supply.’ The NPPF puts greenfield

sites at risk by forcing local authorities to demonstrate that they

can meet market demand for the next five years. However, local

authorities can only make land available for housing; they rely on

private developers to actually build the homes at the required rate.

If developers fail to deliver enough homes, it is the local authorities

who are required to address the shortfall by allocating even more

land for housing – often on less sustainable, but more profitable,

greenfield sites.

Since the NPPF was implemented only 17.6% of authorities have

had their local plan approved by the Government. Without a plan

in place, local authority decisions to reject housing on greenfield

sites can be overturned by a Government Inspector, undermining

local decision making. A local plan can also be disregarded if it

doesn’t show ‘a supply of specific deliverable sites sufficient to

provide five years’ worth of housing.’ The consequences are proving

catastrophic for the countryside; in the past two years 26,840

houses on greenfield sites have been given planning permission

at appeal when the local authority was not found to have enough

housing land supply to meet requirements.

Our new research

The results of our research drew on an analysis of 309 planning

appeal decisions for residential applications on greenfield land,

and confirmed that NPPF policies are resulting in a large number

of appeals overturning local decisions. If the application is for a

major housing development, and the local planning authority does

not have a five year land supply, the success rate at appeal is 72%

(compared with 35% overall). The research also found that even

where the local planning authority did have a five year supply, one

in six of the appeals were still approved.

It is clear that the NPPF is making the five year land supply the

major factor in deciding planning applications. Yet the research

found that current policy – and a lack of detailed guidance – is

making it very difficult for local planning authorities to prove that

they have a five year supply. There are a number of contributing

reasons for this. An inflexible focus on short-term housing targets

makes it difficult for councils to plan effectively for large sites

which may have long lead-in times, while current policy requires

that ‘under delivery’ of housing in the past must be accommodated

in the next five years. In many cases, past ‘under delivery’ was a

result of regional planning policies – agreed by local authorities and approved by Government – quite correctly sought to direct

new housing away from greenfield land and towards brownfield sites in urban areas. Pressure from five year supply requirements means greenfield land is increasingly being earmarked for housing, while viable, deliverable and sustainable sites with local support are overlooked. Perversely, this situation is often exacerbated as councils who have struggled to meet housing targets are required by the NPPF to increase their five year supply by 20%, as a ‘buffer’ to ‘ensure choice and competition in the market for land.’ The five year supply numbers are often based on housing requirements which are calculated with very little guidance, but which place an emphasis on meeting housing demand regardless of the consequences.

Our research found that the level of five year

supply is regularly being decided, ad hoc, during

planning appeals by Government Planning

Inspectors, rather than through the more

considered and democratically accountable local

planning process. This ‘moving of the goalposts’

has created huge uncertainty over the reliability

of housing requirements for local planning

authorities, communities and developers..

Planning appeal case studies

A typical example was an appeal for 154 dwellings on a greenfield site outside the development boundary of Calne in Wiltshire; the appeal was allowed when the Inspector concluded that significant weight must be given to the NPPF’s presumption in favour of sustainable development and its objective to considerably boost the supply of housing.

This case reflects the vast majority of appeal decisions that were analysed, in which the requirement for a five year housing supply and the need to find developable sites is prevailing over policies restricting development on open countryside or existing greenfield sites.

Although our research highlights that planning appeals are three times as likely to be decided in the developers favour, we did find notable exceptions where appeals were rejected. These were often because environmental policies were given proper weight. An application for 53 homes in Sutton-in-Craven, North Yorkshire was dismissed at appeal after the Inspector cited the NPPF in concluding that the impacts of the development on the character and identity of the area outweighed the benefits of the new housing.

The Secretary of State refused permission for 165 dwellings in Thundersley, Essex against the Inspector’s recommendations, because it would result in the loss of Green Belt and undermine national Green Belt policy. He also dismissed an appeal for 1,420 homes on greenfield land separating two settlements in north west Leicestershire, agreeing with the Inspector’s conclusions that the adverse impacts on the landscape and air quality, and the loss of high quality agricultural land, outweighed the benefits of the housing.

Unfortunately, these successful outcomes represent a small minority of the cases. They indicate, however, that appropriate outcomes from planning decisions are possible without a radical overhaul of the current system. Insteadwe are suggesting that relatively small changes to current policy and guidance would ensure that environmental sustainability carries the appropriate level of importance in all planning decisions.

Our recommendations

To address the issues identified in the research,

CPRE is calling on the Government to make a

number of important policy changes which can be

achieved through simple amendments to the NPPF.

We would like to see paragraph 49 altered so that

there is not an automatic presumption in favour

of granting planning permission where the local

authority is unable to demonstrate a five year land

supply. It should also be made clear in these cases

that developers should still be expected to meet

local policy objectives, such as using brownfield

sites before greenfield.

The NPPF requirement that local planning

authorities must allocate an additional

20% ‘buffer’ of ‘deliverable’ housing sites

is exacerbating already unrealistic housing

requirements and should be suspended

immediately. Paragraph 14 should be amended

so that meeting housing demand does not have

greater weight than environmental and social

sustainability in plan making and decision taking.

The NPPF must also allow for a flexible approach to

five year housing supply in local authorities that

can demonstrate they are promoting large scale,

sustainable developments which will meet housing

need in the longer term. Crucially, it must be

amended to ensure that where an up to date Local

or Neighbourhood Plan is in place, development

of inappropriate and unallocated sites will not be

permitted at appeal.


Find out more: Read our full recommendations

and the original research commissioned from

respected consultants Parsons Brinckerhoff

at and see CPRE

Lancashire’s new report on the impact of the five

year housing land supply rule on their county at


Editor: Oliver Hilliam

( [email protected])