Category Archives: Press Releases

Town Council Urges Engagement on Foundry Lea

Bridport Town Council has published its work so far on the planning application for the Foundry Lea housing development and is encouraging the local community to get involved.

The application, which deals with the housing and highways aspects of the development, was submitted by the developers in December 2021, and the deadline for comments is 10 January 2022. Town councillors want local people and groups to be able to understand the application and respond, and have published their initial thoughts on the application in the form of a summary video and draft planning comments.

Council Leader Cllr Dave Rickard said “So far we’ve identified some good things in the application, like the affordable housing, provision for cycling, solar panels, electric vehicle charging, and some welcome attention to how the development will look. But we’re very concerned that the development doesn’t do enough to meet our future environmental needs. We’ve all heard in recent times about the dangers of climate change and the need to reduce our carbon emissions, and big developments like this are one opportunity to start making a meaningful difference. Our hope is that with a strong community response we can achieve some improvements.”

The Town Council set up a working group last year to engage with the developers, along with key stakeholders including Symondsbury Parish Council, in whose area the site lies. And recently, councillors have engaged with other agencies such as Dorset Council and Wessex Water to press for assurances on the infrastructure surrounding the development – like highways, cycle paths, drainage and sewerage. Cllr Rickard said “The outline permission granted in 2019 means that the development will now go ahead, so regardless of people’s views we now need to focus on getting the best possible development for Bridport. We want Foundry Lea to be an exemplar in design and environmental standards, and a good ‘fit’ with the town.”

In addition to the housing, the full mixed use development will include an employment site, school, care home, playing fields, and a local centre. Further planning applications covering these aspects are expected to follow in due course.

Town Clerk Will Austin said “This is the first of what we expect to be a series of applications for the full development, and we are keen that people have the information they need to ensure they can give their views. We hope our work so far will help.”

The Town Council’s draft comments and summary video can be found at

Letter to Bridport News

We have been asked by a number of residents for our views on the proposed changes to the plans for Vearse Farm as publicised in last week’s Bridport News… The proposed changes are minor in themselves but we have urged the Council to hold the developers to the agreed plans .There are many examples nationally where developers, having obtained planning permission manipulate, the plans by for example reducing the amount of affordable houses.. The applicants were aware of the 106 conditions when they signed the Legal Agreement in May 2019 and the Council should signal to the developers, they intend to hold them to the commitments made in full.

We would also point out that if the access road nearer town and related footpaths and cycleways are  not built until 300 houses are occupied  then traffic will increase significantly along West Road and the narrow pavements will present increased  dangers to pedestrians.

The request to changes the plans for access should, however, be taken as an opportunity by Dorset Council to address the failure of the previous West Dorset Council when considering the original application. The proposed change is about access ONTO the site.  We have always argued that the plans should have also considered access into town. We need a new traffic assessment because the one at the time of the original planning permission has serious errors e.g.  in underestimating traffic flows at the North Allington roundabout and overestimating the width of pavements on West Road.,

Local people still have many concerns about the impact of Vearse Farm on the town. We urge our local representatives to take this opportunity to address those related to traffic and access in a more holistic way.

Vearse Farm land up for sale to developers

After being delayed for more than a year by a judicial review challenging what’s set to be the biggest ever development on an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB), Vearse Farm land has now gone up for sale to building companies.  Builders are invited to submit bids by noon on 15 July for all or parcels of land on the site.

A long delay is, however, anticipated before any of the 760+ houses and industrial units etc are built, as important infrastructure work has to be designed and completed before any properties can be occupied. Hallam Land Management, the company behind the project, were forced to delay this work for 12 months while ADVEARSE’s legal challenge to the planning permission, officially granted in May 2019, was ongoing.

The overwhelming opposition to the development, backed by the Dorset Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), continues, however.  Just last week Jeremy Pope, heritage interest representative on the AONB Partnership Board, trustee of the County Museum and of the Jurassic Coast Trust, wrote to local MP Chris Loder to say that ‘the decision to grant planning for the Vearse Farm project is completely at odds with the whole protection which AONB status is meant to confer … and will dramatically and adversely affect Bridport itself.’  While acknowledging ‘the need to increase housing capacity in the county’, he said, ‘to be honest I am more than a little sceptical that the promised affordable housing content will ever be fulfilled if past experience is anything to go by’, and went on to ask the MP if there was anything could be done to see if the scheme could ‘at least be moderated or, better still, scrapped.’  

In the meantime, ADVEARSE has now reluctantly moved on to a new phase focusing on ensuring the planning obligations and promises made by Hallam, such as the provision of 35% affordable housing (at around 80% of usual market value) and improvements to the A35 Miles Cross junction, are honoured.  The campaign group will also be closely examining aspects of the development that do not appear to meet legal requirements, including pedestrian safety. 

ADVEARSE Chair Barry Bates said ‘We will fight any attempt to back track on developer and council commitments and, with our wide-spread support, will not hesitate from taking legal action where appropriate.  While the impact of this development will undoubtedly change Bridport beyond recognition, we hope now to be able to work closely with the Town Council and relevant community groups to maximise the benefits to residents and to try to minimise as far as possible the harm the development is able to inflict on the culture and heritage of our town and countryside.’ <ENDS>

Further update on Judicial Review

As previously mentioned, the full JR hearing was held on Tuesday 28 January at the Cardiff Civil Justice Centre.

The hearing was in front a judge with lawyers representing Advearse, Dorset Council and the developer (Hallam) making oral arguments to supplement the written skeleton arguments already submitted to the court. The judge had available a large amount of material relevant to the planning application. This includes a significant amount of case law.  We had a total of 8 Advearse members and supporters attending on the day. We were told that the Judge would have noticed this presence.

Our lawyers sought an order from the judge quashing the planning permission citing specific legal failures by the Council in relation to the planning application. Of course, both the Council and Hallam lawyers resisted our claim.

If granted, a quashing order would render the current Vearse Farm Outline Planning Permission (OPP) null and void.

Due to the length and complexity of the legal arguments the case had to be adjourned and was completed on Friday 31 January with some Advearse members in attendance. As expected, the judge reserved judgement and will, over the coming weeks, review all the legal submissions and arguments and issue his written judgement. Unfortunately, we do not have a clear indication of how long it will take to issue the judgment and more importantly which way it will go.

At our January meeting we examined the possible responses of Dorset Council and Hallam to which ever result emerges  and to plan our own response. Fingers crossed we win the case – but whatever the outcome we will continue to fight against the massively destructive Vearse Farm Bridport urban extension. 

We will provide a further update once the Judge has finalised his decision.


Judge grants ADVEARSE judicial review

On 3 October a judge gave residents’ campaign group ADVEARSE the go ahead for a full judicial review (JR) against Dorset Council’s approval for the biggest ever development in an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB). ADVEARSE members and supporters were in the civil court in Cardiff this week for the oral hearing. Their case was put by Matthew Henderson of Landmark Chambers who faced barristers and QCs representing Dorset Council and the developer, Hallam Land Management. He argued that the decision to grant outline planning permission for an urban development of over 700 houses, industrial units and other mixed use in the West Dorset countryside was open to legal challenge. The main focus was on the fact that all of the development area of Vearse Farm, outside Bridport, lies within the AONB which should only be built on under stipulated exceptional circumstances, and even then the scale of the development should be limited. The judge agreed that the case is ‘arguable’ and gave his permission for it to proceed to a full hearing. It was deemed to be a significant case in planning law and the JR is therefore likely to take place early in the new year.

ADVEARSE Chair Barry Bates commented ‘We are delighted with today’s decision. It confirms we have a case which is strong enough to be heard.’

ADVEARSE has the support of Dorset CPRE who see the case to be of national significance because if the development were to go ahead it would put into question the protection of all other AONB land in the country. Barry Bates said ‘We are fully aware of the pressure on councils to find building sites. In taking this action we hope to highlight the flaws in current planning policy which make it possible for developers to hold local authorities to ransom and build anywhere they like on green belt and AONB land, rendering councils and local residents completely powerless to object[1]. The truth is, there are no exceptional circumstances to justify this massive development, and the lack of any feasible affordable housing provision means there are no public interest benefits.’

He added ‘Vearse Farm was identified nearly a decade ago and times have changed. The news this week that Dorset and East Devon is being considered for National Park status will add further questions about the suitability of this site. It is now time for the new unified Dorset Council to reconsider this scheme.’

ADVEARSE gave thanks again to supporters who donated over £35,000 to make this case possible. 

ADVEARSE will provide further updates following further discussions with the legal team.

[1] Current government policy dictates that councils must meet a five-year housing supply target based on a standard methodology which the CPRE believes may greatly over estimate house-building need (, and which is not weighted differently to protect the countryside by ensuring lower growth expectations in rural areas.  Further, the Local Plan for the West Dorset area fails to identify any available brownfield sites for development and fails to meet local affordable housing need.

PRESS RELEASE – Dorset Council procrastinate over judicial review legal deadline

Dorset Council have asked to defer the deadline to respond to a lawyer’s letter setting out ADVEARSE’s proposed claim for a judicial review against the outline planning permission for the Vearse Farm development.  Officially, a response should be expected within 14 days of receipt of the pre-action protocol letter sent by Leigh Day Solicitors. 

The official decision notice granting outline planning permission to Hallam Land Management was issued on election day, Thursday 2 May.  ADVEARSE has just six weeks from this date (deadline 13 June) to apply for the judicial review.  In accordance with legal requirements, Leigh Day sent the pre-action letter, addressed to the council’s legal department, on 8 May.  Dorset Council says the letter was received on 9 May but that it took a further four days for it to reach the legal department through internal mail.  In their interim reply the council has said it cannot make the deadline of 23 May and has asked for a further extension to 6 June, four weeks after the letter was received.  It says it needs the time to prepare a response, despite reporting in Local Government Lawyer on 21 March 2019 that it was aware of ADVEARSE’s intentions.

ADVEARSE Chairman Barry Bates says ‘The decision notice was issued on the afternoon before a bank holiday weekend and before the new council had a chance to be elected.  Luckily, we and our lawyers have been on standby awaiting the decision notice for almost 18 months since the planning committee made its initial decision to allow the development to go ahead.’ 

While the council’s delays will not affect the time limit for the judicial review application, its failure to meet the 14-day deadline may be taken into account by the court and costs sanctions imposed.  Leigh Day is asking for a compromise deadline of 27 May. 

In the meantime, ADVEARSE has, after initial legal and other costs, just over £12,000 left to raise of its £34,000 target money.  It must raise this money before 13 June or the legal action cannot be actioned and the Vearse Farm development cannot be stopped. 

ADVEARSE Treasurer Phil Summerton says ‘People wouldn’t object if this was a smaller-scale development of genuinely low-cost housing for local people.  But this is set to be a luxury estate for second-home owners and will bring in retirees on a massive scale.  This goes against national protections for AONB land, but local democracy has let us down and now the only recourse appears to be to the law.  This is our very last chance to stop the Vearse Farm development.’

Bridport residents have rallied round contributing direct donations of £10,000 and these have been matched by a donation of £10,000 from Dorset CPRE.  A further £3,560 has been raised through the Bridport-based Crowdfunder website:

Support is now being sought from further afield in recognition that Vearse Farm, the biggest development ever to be allowed on AONB land, will set a dangerous precedent for urban sprawl all over the UK countryside.


Further information

Information about ADVEARSE can be found at:





ADVEARSE proceeds towards a judicial review against Dorset Council

ADVEARSE has today initiated pre-action legal protocols and launched a Crowdfunder appeal to raise funds to apply for a judicial review (JR) against Dorset Council’s outline planning permission for the Vearse Farm development (see: for further information).  Almost 18 months after West Dorset Council (now Dorset Council) members ‘reluctantly’ granted outline planning permission to Hallam Land Management (3 November 2017), the official decision notice allowing the building of 760+ houses on AONB-designated land was issued on Thursday 2 May just before the bank holiday weekend.  ADVEARSE now has just six weeks to raise the remaining £16,000 it needs to challenge the council’s decision in court.

ADVEARSE’s lawyers worked over the weekend and have written to Dorset Council to outline the challenge and ask questions about the legality of the planning application.

The people of Bridport have already donated an incredibly generous £8,800 towards the JR so far. Thanks to the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) match funding (up to a maximum of £10,000), and taking into account pre-JR legal costs, a further £16,000 in donations is needed to reach the £34,000 target required to proceed with legal action.  ADVEARSE launched its online Crowdfunder fundraising campaign on Monday 6 May with the aim of reaching a much broader range of concerned people.

Because Vearse Farm is the biggest development ever to be allowed on AONB land, the JR will have important implications for the protection of the countryside all over the UK.

Barry Bates, Chairman of ADVEARSE, says: ‘Local people are angry because their concerns about traffic and the strain on our infrastructure and medical and care services have been ignored by the council; and because despite the gross oversupply of expensive houses the council plans to build all over the West Dorset countryside, it admits it will still fail to provide the affordable housing needed by local families.’

Stop press; Vearse Farm meeting

14th February 2019

We plan to hold a public meeting to update you on the latest developments on the Vearse Farm planning application on Wednesday 24th April at the WI Hall, North Street, Bridport,  DT6 3JH at 7.00. pm. Please check the local press, our Facebook page (, or follow us on Twitter (@advearse), for further details.

If you have any concerns at all about the implications for you and the local area then please read the leaflet and join our campaign.

Local Plan revision; press release

Disappointment but not surprise was the reaction of ADVEARSE members to the updated West Dorset Local Plan. Details of the latest proposals can be found on the Dorset for you website…..

The Plan which is due to go out for consultation later this year has identified 3 sites for additional housing in Bridport including a site off Jessop Avenue. We would urge everyone to respond to the consultation being held between August and October of this year.

One of these is land adjoining Vearse Farm and if this plan is adopted the numbers of housing on Vearse Farm will increase from 760 to 930. Phrases like ‘mini Poundbury’ spring to mind.  A spokesman for the group commented ‘we warned from the start this was the thin end of the wedge. All our arguments against Vearse Farm –increased threat of flooding, problems of access, danger to pedestrians, pressure on parking in town will amplified by this proposal. One of the most ironic statements in new document is one that states that’ by 2036 the District Council will have protected the surrounding area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and flood plain’!

Although the outline planning permission for proposed development at Vearse Farm was approved by the Planning Committee in November 2017 the S106 funding agreements are not yet in place. ADVEARSE believes that there are strong grounds for challenging the decision. The spokesman added ‘We hope that people will now see the potential impact of this massive development and realise it is essential to stop the first phase of Vearse Farm. ADVEARSE are preparing the next stage in the campaign and will be looking for community support. We are fighting to preserve the character of our wonderful market town and believe that sites for the necessary affordable housing can be found without the need for a massive development.

ADVEARSE are delighted by CPRE’s objection and precedent…..

ADVEARSE has welcomed the Supreme Court decision on 6 December 2017 which has refused permission to developers to build over 500 houses in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Kent. The case, brought by the Kent branch of CPRE (Campaign for the Preservation of Rural England) against Dover District Council, reiterates the basic principle that major developments should not be approved in AONBs unless exceptional circumstances exist and have been stipulated.

A spokesman for ADVEARSE commented – ‘There are many similarities in this case to the proposed development at Vearse Farm. We continue to argue that there is no justification for such a large development so close to the wonderful Jurassic Coast’.

ADVEARSE is in contact with other parties who are studying the Supreme Court judgment to identify its wider implications. The spokesman continued – ‘This has given a great boost to our campaign against Vearse Farm. Details of the latest steps of our campaign can be found on our website, through which we may also be contacted by the many people who since the granting of Outline Planning permission by WDDC have asked how they can help to stop the scheme.’

For further information contact Barry Bates – 01308 425519.”