Category Archives: Letters

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.

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is important because it may be several more years before this infrastructure is complete and they may be working with out-of-date figures as demonstrated by the uplift from 30% to 40%.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



Latest letter to the Bridport News……..

Hopefully this (my personal opinion) will be published in tomorrows edition……

“So the Vearse Farm housing development issue rumbles on.
I do however feel that an alternative scenario to build the proposed affordable tranche (35%) equating to 266 low-cost dwellings, could be achieved.
I have just viewed the TV discussion involving Andrew Marr with Sajid Javid MP, the Communities Secretary, who revealed plans to take a more holistic view to building low-cost housing. He cited a £10billion of extra funding to achieve this goal. Traditionally, roughly every two open-market houses sold, fund the build of an affordable house. So what if a revolutionary approach is taken and the private sector totally fund such schemes, as part of Mr. Javid’s proposed holistic concept?
I understand that there have been several successful schemes in Britain whereby companies have directly funded housing associations. Perhaps this approach could be applied to the direct funding of low-cost housing on several sites in Bridport as an alternative to Vearse Farm. This would preclude S106 agreements as government funding is not involved and the financier could insist that only, the much needed low-cost housing, is built without the extra traditional open-market tranche . Overall the number of units could be reduced, their design would insistently comply to environmentally friendly criteria, particularly that of solar panel implementation, and finally the smaller demand in dwelling numbers, could be built more expeditiously than the 760 units destined for Vearse Farm.
I would therefore openly ask WDDC councillors to consider this option and perhaps park their decision to grant outline planning permission to the Hallam Land Group, at the meeting destined for the 3rd November in Dorchester. Subsequently they, having evaluated this alternative option, make a decision generating a legacy to be wholeheartedly applauded by the eligible, needy residents of our Town.
Richard Freer
West Allington”

Letter of thanks……..

Published in this weeks View from Bridport and The Bridport News…….

“The ADVEARSE Campaign Group would like to thank the residents of Bridport and the surrounding villages for the many additional, kind donations to our cause, in the main generated by our leaflet distribution of late. This has enabled us to maintain the pressure on WDDC to hopefully, not desecrate the land at Vearse Farm. Failing that scenario, it is essential that we pursue and encourage the generation of a reduced number of suitably sized dwellings for the first-time buyer, in effect, the future Greater Bridport society. Furthermore it needs to be demonstrated, that the site is viable in terms of reduced flood risk and vehicular access, before any development begins.

Most recently, we were buoyed by both the Town Council and Symondsbury Parish Councils, objecting to the build on the grounds of poor access to the proposed site. We understand that additionally, Allington Parish Council have objected to this proposed development.

Furthermore, many of the objections currently lodged on the WDDC planning website, originate from the submission of the aforementioned, completed leaflet.

This is of course a bonus, as we did not expect the utilisation of this document as a means of residents communicating with WDDC, on the scale on which it has !

Thank you again, one and all.

“It’s never too late, to donate”

ADVEARSE Campaign Group

E; ”

Vearse Farm letter in “Bridport News”……….

“I read with amazement the article in the Bridport News (on page 6; December 1st 2016), related to quotes of Cllr. Ronald Coatsworth on local housing. I presumed that he had been misquoted by citing such sites as Happy Island Way, Bridport as being “sacrosanct” as a potential site for housing ! Why did he deem Happy Island Way to be “a special case” when he did not refer to larger, potential development(s) at Vearse Farm (760 dwellings, and many other emerging sites in Greater Bridport area currently under review) being sacrosanct ? Why was he so discriminatory ?

He has since written to this newspaper on January 26th (Postbag; page 12) reiterating this opinion on not building in Gore and Watford Lanes , Happy Island Way and Home Farm (290, 230 and 140, dwellings respectively).

I do agree that we do NOT require any more open-market houses (if this is his rationale?), however the requirements are, that low-cost houses to allow young and destitute residents in our locale, to purchase or rent at affordable rates.

For Cllr. Coatsworth, who is in an influential position serving on both District and County Councils, not to be championing this cause that I and many others support I feel is a disgrace, and should be loudly encouraged by him, not discouraged.

I might add that Vearse Farm and any other potential sites in our locale, are not a low-cost housing panacea. Current legislation does not support the planner having to build any low-cost housing on emerging sites. The planners are aware of the loophole in the Growth and Infrastructure Act, 2013, which allows them to renege at any period into the build. This was tangibly demonstrated in Seaton in early 2014, whereby 40% deemed as affordables were contracted, but none were built.

Richard Freer


ADVEARSE tell it as it is……..

My letter in this weeks View from Bridport….

Please feel free to write into the paper next week and endorse it !

“In light of last weeks West Dorset planning meeting, councillors were given a briefing on the Vearse Farm application for guidance when it comes before committee next year

We at ADVEARSE are totally in agreement for promoting the allocation of building land in Bridport and its environs for low-cost housing. We do however, object to an additional tranche (65% or greater) of higher cost, market driven housing, typically 500 dwellings on Vearse Farm if approval is granted.

The demographic for this area is currently skewed , in that the majority of residents are at the higher end of the age spectrum. Any development in Bridport and the outlying villages needs to redress this balance and encourage less fortunate and younger members of our society, gaining the option of ascending the housing ladder. This will only be achieved by implementing low-cost housing.

We were very concerned that the Hallam Land Group have implied that the allocation of 260 affordable homes, 35% (or less) of the total build of 760 would be assessed on the basis of viability as reported in your paper previously. Originally, the Local Plan indicated that a minimum of 35% affordable’s would have been mandatory. This was changed by removal of the word minimum, after the Inspector, Paul Crysell had published his comments recently, as part of the Main Modifications of the Local Plan.

We are totally committed to the campaign that the current aforementioned size and positioning of the Vearse Farm development as proposed, is undesirable to Bridport. Furthermore, its effect on the environment, road infrastructure and culture etc. are detrimental to the locale.

These criteria will all be seriously considered, and alternative options sought accordingly, as the local Neighbourhood Plan (Vision 2030) develops and is delivered, over the next fifteen months.

We feel it is of significant importance that like-minded residents register their lack of support of this development accordingly, using the link…….

The closing date being, 27th October 2015.”

Richard Freer

From Roy Mathisen (of Bridport First)…….

Bridport Housing Crisis – Please Help

I am very concerned that so many younger people in Bridport are unable to afford to buy their own homes.  I also recognise that many people there are having to pay very high rents for accommodation in Bridport.

These high prices are the result of a simple fact.  Lack of supply.  If there is not sufficient supply of anything that people need then prices go up.  It is that simple.  Smaller homes in Bridport are too expensive for local younger people to buy because there are not enough houses of that type.  Privately rented accommodation is so expensive that tax payers appear to be paying out over £2,000,000 in Housing Benefit per year in Bridport for people who cannot afford to pay the rents for private accommodation!  That is because there is not enough low cost rental housing. I think that is outrageous.

This housing shortage is not just a local problem, it is a national problem.  The main cause is that up until the early 1980s Local Councils were building around 100,000 council houses a year. The Thatcher government decided to sell off council houses to their tenants and that was arguably a good thing.  The problem was that they also stopped giving the councils the money to build more council houses so the country has been losing 100,000 new homes each year for decades. Hence the current housing crisis. That is totally irresponsible!

I have done quite a lot of research into this and I feel that the new housing policies that have been devised for Bridport are flawed.  West Dorset District Council have prepared a Local Plan for West Dorset and Weymouth & Portland and this plan is almost certainly be accepted and implemented.  The housing provision for Bridport that is contained in the Plan simply does not address the housing needs if Bridport.

Bridport needs quite a lot more housing to cater for the needs of the younger people who already live there

It has to be the right type of housing in the right places and at the right prices.  The Local Plan DOES NOT DO THIS.

I have written a detailed paper on this problem and I have sent it to our MP, Oliver Letwin and to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Mr Greg Clark.  In this paper I have asked that a panel of experts be set up to look at the specific housing needs in Bridport and come up with ways building the right properties in the right places at the right prices.  For the people of Bridport.

Below is the Executive Summary of the paper I sent to Letwin and Clark.  I have also sent it to West Dorset District Council and to Bridport Town Council.  I am very grateful that Bridport Town Council responded positively. Council leader Cllr Sarah Williams said ‘This is a very interesting document that raises a number of issues.’ The full response is attached to this email.  That is very, very helpful.

Affordable Housing – beware!

A key point to be aware of is the term Affordable Housing. This appears a lot in articles about our housing crisis. Affordable Housing is in fact defined as being priced at 80% of the market rate.  Reducing rents or house prices in Bridport by 20% will not mean that lots more local people would be able to afford them. Anybody in Bridport will tell you that.  What we need is LOW COST housing !

So, I have done quite a lot of research into the housing needs in Bridport and I have sent my suggestions to Mr Letwin and Mr Clark in the hope that they will help.  What are the chances of me succeeding? Well as a solitary local citizen with no public profile then I estimate my chances of success as being nil.  Or even less than nil.

For there to be any chance of a constructive review of housing needs in Bridport taking place, a lot more people than just me need to ask for it.

I am asking you to read the work that I have done and decide whether or not you broadly agree with what I have discovered and what could be done about it.  You do not have to agree with absolutely everything of course.  If you broadly support what I think needs to be done then please will you do these two things.

  1. Write or email Mr Letwin and Mr Clark to tell them what you think.  It can be a long message or a short simple message.  Their email addresses are below.
  2. Send this email to all your local friends and ask them to email Mr Letwin and Mr Clark as well.  If you do that then it can become very powerful. For example, if you send this to ten of your friends and they also email Mr Letwin and Mr Clark then that would mean they would each get eleven emails.  If your ten friends send it to ten of their friends and they each send emails then that would make a hundred more emails plus the original eleven.  If those hundred people each send it to ten of their friends then that would make a thousand emails.  And if they all got ten of their friends to send emails then that would make ten thousand emails.  That is powerful!!  It is the old idea of a chain letter but it is so much easier by email.  The power of modern technology.  Use it!


  1. You could also write to the local press or to your local councillors.


  1. You could also email me to tell you what you have done then I have an idea of what is happening.


  1. Also, please let me know if you have any queries.

The email address for Mr Clark is

The email address for Mr Letwin’s Parliamentary Secretary, Mrs Angela Charles, is


Below is a summary of the housing paper that I have sent.  The full paper is attached to this email.  Please read it and the other attachments on this email.

Thank you for reading this.  I hope you will take action.  If you do, then together we can make a difference.

Please do it as quickly as you can to help the people of Bridport to get a fair deal on housing.  They need your help.


Roy Mathisen


Executive Summary

  • There is a critical low cost housing shortage in Bridport.
  • Nearly 40% households in West Dorset have an income of £20,000 or less – probably a lot less.
  • This means that many residents are simply unable to afford to buy a home.  In addition there is insufficient low cost rental accommodation available so that 25% of rented properties attract housing benefit which suggests that around £15 million per year is spent on Housing Benefit in West Dorset. That need not happen.
  • House prices in Bridport are so high that they are almost high as similar properties within the M25 so younger people are leaving Bridport because higher London salaries enable them to get on the housing ladder there.  Bridport is losing a generation of its population because of its housing crisis.
  • That is completely wrong.
  • The draft Local Plan is still not approved and in place.  This means that the District Council are unable to turn down planning applications for housing. It is widely known that a developer intends to obtain planning permission for 760 houses on an area of outstanding natural beauty before the Local Plan is in place.
  • These houses are mainly middle income housing.  There is no evidence of any need for more of that type of housing.
  • There is a critical need for low cost homes.
  • This paper proposes that a Panel of professionals be set up to explore ways in which low cost housing be devised and delivered for Bridport using private sector funding.  This to be carried out in liaison with the Neighbourhood Planning process.
  • The above process could provide a model for similarly affected areas in the UK.

From Robert Golden; Hallam Land consultation

To; Sarah Bevan Bsc (Hons), Msc, MRTP

Senior Planner

 Savills (on behalf of Hallam Land Group), UK
Dear Ms Bevan

Perhaps your company is well intentioned, but I imagine your main concern is to create profits for your board rather than to create a rich addition to Bridport.
This is only natural in the strange world we share.
There are a number of worrisome matters in your presentation.
The first is the mitigating adverbs used throughout implying you MAY do x, y or z. What is clear is how uncommitted your document is to the things which would help to hide these houses from the rest of us. Is the developer actually going to plant trees, gardens and grasses? Is there going to be a commons and a community centre and if so what will it contain, how big will it be, who will outfit it? Why is there an insistence to move St Mary’s to Vearse Farm? It seems to me, yanking it out of an already impoverished and underserved area and placing it in what looks to be a middle class areas of housing is a travesty of justice. Further, it is clear from research that Bridport needs affordable housing and not more retirement and second homes which your designs seem to hint at. Just how many ‘social houses’ will there be? And will they be of built to the same standards as the rest of the retirement houses? Why does the architecture bare no resemblance to our local vernacular? It reminds me of Mac houses in the States, a customised one format fits all imposition from people who have no sensitivity towards local materials and designs.
Are any of the houses going to have a small ecological footprint? Why are they being built on an area which, two summers ago, was flooded from heavy rainfall?
Are the increase in vital services -roads, school places and teachers, medical facilities- going to be externalised costs borne by local residents or is the developer going to help the town cope with the thousands of new citizens?
I have as yet not spoken to one person who is happy about this uninvited intrusion in our green belt of natural beauty because no one believes your new settlement will help the people of Bridport be housed. The assumption is that our young and poor will struggle even more to find places to live.
Of course, if the developers were to build fine houses for the young and poor, that would be a different matter.
Robert Golden

From Tina Ellen Lee; Hallam Land consultation


Sarah Bevan Bsc (Hons), Msc, MRTP
Senior Planner
Savills (on behalf of Hallam Land Group), UK
Dear Ms Bevan

I have just been sent your report on the Vearse Farm developments.

I don’t mind our town growing by over 3000 people over ten years but what I do mind is the middle class second home nature of this development and the appallingly lazy architecture.

I see no community or cultural centre nor any new facilities in the town to cope with the extra people.  I also see absolutely no social or affordable housing which is what this town needs, not second homes.  

We also don’t need any new supermarkets nor removal of car parks in the town centre.

What we need is real vision for the future of this town and I am not seeing this at Vearse Farm. Just an opportunity for a number of companies to make profit.

I am hoping that the Neighbourhood Plan will give the community of Bridport the chance to alter these plans to 
suit what this town needs rather than what is currently being imposed.

It is very sad that the process so far, which hasn’t been handled well by WDDC, has caused so much distress to the people of the town.  I am glad you sent this document because I was unable to see the exhibition at the Town Hall due to being away for work.  Everyone I know who has been to see the plans have expressed deep unhappiness.
 Finally the plan to remove St. Mary’s Primary School from the Skilling Estate will cause huge problems for the many disadvantaged families who live there and who at the moment can walk their children to school.  Many don’t have cars and there is no public transport system.  With the buses in this area being cut it seems no one has thought through the problems that this will cause.  Meanwhile St Mary’s is now being denied some of the benefits that are being given to the other primary schools because of its uncertain future e.g. the recent solar panel plan for schools.

I think there is some moral responsibility here that no one involved seems to be grasping, but then morality never goes hand in hand with profit. 

Tina Ellen Lee

WDDC cancel petition submission; Vearse Farm !!

ADVEARSE have just received a letter from Matt Prosser, Chief Executive at the WDDC. It details in part that……

“…..In conclusion therefore, the petition will not be discussed by the full Council [on the 8th January, 2015]as the matter raised is one that has already been able to go through a separate investigation process through the public examination into the whole plan. The inspector will consider all of the evidence thoroughly before reaching his conclusions on whether the plan is sound.

The full text can be supplied if requested.

ADVEARSE will be contacting the local media to convey their dissatisfaction on this infringement of the democratic process.