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Flooding risk – letter to Dorset Council

To Alistair Trendell – Dorset Council, Flood Risk Management Team

Place Services, County Hall, Dorchester

03 May 2024

Dear Mr Trendell,

Ref Surface Water Management – Vearse Farm Bridport

My colleagues on the ADVEARSE group have long been concerned about the increased flooding risk arising from the massive housing development. The last winter has exacerbated our concerns and indeed there was flooding on site yesterday. It has been very difficult for us to obtain a reliable analysis of both the flood risk and the measures which flood experts feel are required. It is sad to see the Environment Agency so enfeebled. I have been contacted by members of the public who are concerned about the threat – indeed it is the most common concern people have.

I was interested in your submission on the Vearse Farm planning portal dated 15 November 2023. I note that you have lifted an objection but laid down the attached condition.

No development shall take place until details of maintenance & management of both the surface water sustainable drainage scheme and any receiving system have been submitted to and approved in writing by the local planning authority. The scheme shall be implemented and thereafter managed and maintained in accordance with the approved details. These should include a plan for the lifetime of the development, the arrangements for adoption by any public body or statutory undertaker, or any other arrangements to secure the operation of the surface water drainage scheme throughout its lifetime.

Construction work has appeared to have started and I therefore asked Mr Lytton -Trevers for clarification. He has informed me that the condition was cleared on 08/06/2023 and 21/12/2023. I find this hard to believe – the first date predates your letter and the second would require a speed of working in response which we have yet to see with this application.

Can I therefore ask you?

1. To explain if the condition has been met and if so

2. Where can I obtain the details referred to by you.

I am not alone in wanting, as a member of the Bridport population likely to affected by this, to be given a clear explanation of how the surface water and indeed extra sewage will be managed.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes

Barry Bates

Gavin Fryer – Obituary

It is with heavy hearts that the Advearse team have to report that one of the founder members Gavin Fryer sadly passed away last month after a brief illness. His funeral was held at St Swithuns on 12 March and was very well attended by over 100 people. Our condolences go to Gavin’s wife Sue and his three daughters.

Gavin had been a lynch pin of the team for well over a decade, helping us to stay focused on our opposition to the Vearse Farm development and the damage it would inflict on Bridport. He had considerable knowledge of planning regulations and the challenges of dealing with local authorities. And was always ready to share this knowledge.

But along with Gavin’s knowledge and experience he brought a wry and indefatigable sense of humour that helped keep us all going during some of our most frustrating periods when dealing with Dorset Council, the developers et al.

Gavin was never one to back down from a challenge and was able to put our case bluntly at the various planning committee meetings. He was able to give voice to the strong local opposition to the Vearse Farm development and challenge the committee members on their weak acquiescence to the council officer demands.

Over the last few months we have been putting together an archive of our documents to go to the Dorchester Archive office. Our aim is to ensure that there is access for journalists, academics or other interested parties to be able to study the Vearse Farm development and its chequered history. We did not want all our efforts and those of the local community in opposing the development to get lost in the mist of history. We only realised when Gavin bought to a meeting his boxes (and boxes!) of documents just how much effort and dedication he had put in over the years.

Gavin had a love for the local Dorset countryside and one of his initiatives was to raise with the developers (Barratts) the possibility of restoring a walk way close to the Founry Lea estate which was called Lovers Grove. This tree lined walkway dated back over 100 years and Gavin was able to find photos showing Lovers Grove in its heyday. Sadly now it is in a sorry state with many of the stone slabs missing and some trees diseased or missing. We are in discussion with Barratts about a restoration project which would be a wonderful epitaph for Gavin.

Work started at Vearse Farm (Foundry Lea)

ADVEARSE is fielding queries about the work which has started around the Vearse Farm development . Unfortunately the next meeting of the Foundry Lea working Group has been postponed  which means it is difficult to ask the questions directly to the developers in an open forum. There is no recent information on the Foundry Lea website .We are seeking advice about how best to air your concerns.

Please contact us via the website if you have any concerns 

At the last FLWG meeting on 30 January the developer provided an update and the notes below were made by an Advearse representative at the meeting:

From mid February work starts on site fencing, site segregation fencing and tree management. This will last for about 6 weeks.

First phase infrastructure commences including first half of link road starting on the east side. In 2 months the off-site service work will have been completed.

The Miles Cross roundabout detailed plans have been held up by National Highways reviews. No further comments are expected from them.. Formal sign off of the detailed plans is expected in a few weeks time. The tender for the roundabout construction work will then be placed.

The CTMP needs to be agreed and there are outstanding H&S issues being considered. Dorset Council have some minor comments and the draft CTMP will be circulated once updated and should be signed off once the roundabout contractor has been appointed.

No final decision has been made on the Miles Cross right hand turn issue. This will wait for the roundabout constructor input. Over the next 2 months the volume of site traffic will be minimal so no issue for Miles Cross safety. So CTMP does not need to be in place.

Water table hight and recent flooding are not considered to be an issue and are addressed by the current approved plans.

The proposed building regulations changes in 2025 relating to banning gas boilers apply from when the foundations are dug out. So those houses with foundations dug before June 2025 would have gas boilers. .

Barratts working on updated newsletter for local people. Possible press release. Also looking at a site opening ceremony.


We are grateful that the latest proposals for surface water management at Foundry Lea have been opened for public consultation. The changes are of themselves minor and as such hard to object to. However, the Flood Risk Engineer report is most concerning.

The report sets out conditions which should be met before any development takes place. The most significant clause reads ‘No development shall take place until details of the maintenance and management of both surface water, sustainable drainage scheme and any receiving system have been submitted to and approved in writing by the local planning authority’.

This week we have had disruptive floods in West Dorset. These confirm the fears of the impact of climate change. Whilst these were not confined to Vearse Farm they do highlight the concerns that have been expressed since 2012 about the threat downstream from run off from this massive site. Taylor Wimpey cited this as one reason why they considered the site inappropriate for large scale development.

As yet Wessex Water have failed to respond to our repeated requests for details on how it will manage the extra demand created by sewage and run off. Given the discharges into the sea seen this summer at West Bay, this is extremely concerning. It is not clear that the plans reflect the updated flood risk projections of the Environment Agency which featured in the Bridport News earlier this year. Local residents are unlikely to be reassured by the rebuttals from LRM Planning who are after all engaged by the developers. An independent review the Environment Agency is required.

We, therefore, have asked that the Dorset Council Planning Committee accept the recommendation to include the conditions in any approval notice and to ensure that the condition is met in full before development commences.

Meeting with Foundry Lea developers

Barrats and Vistry will be holding on 1 March from 2pm to 7pm at the Town Hall for local people to attend and find out more about the planned development. They will provide information including about the timeframe and other aspects of the build.

We encourage everyone to attend andf take the opportunity to raise any concerns and ask questions. We have recently made a number of posts on our website about issues that continue to be of concern. In particular the potential for water pollution, flood risk and the impact of construction traffic on the town and local roads.

The latter point is particulalry relevant given that the developers currently plan to start work on the site before/during construction of the roundabout at Miles Cross.

Replacement of the trees and hedgerow

The Vearse Farm/Foundry Lea developers have issued a plan for replacement of the trees and hedgerow erroneously removed from Symondsbury Estates Land,

To replace the loss of the mature trees, 26 standard trees — English oak (12), field maple (7) and hornbeam (7) — will be planted on and behind the hedge bank to advance the maturity of the hedge feature. Due to English oak trees of the specified size not being available until Autumn 2023, these will be planted after September 2023.

A new hedgerow will be planted with the species mix proposed for other new hedgerows across the site. The species proposed are targeted to benefit dormice and a range of important invertebrate species including green hairstreak butterflies.

All stumps are to be retained where possible and will produce new coppice growth within the first year to contribute to hedgerow structure.

Correspondance with Environment Agency

We asked the Environment agency to carry out an investigation of water quality on the Symene and about Nutrient neutrality on the FL site. Below is their response. We will continue to investigate and pressfor action on these issues

  1. We are not able to implement additional monitoring with respect to planning applications as this does not fall under our current monitoring programme. There are other complex but related drivers which determine where and what we monitor. We currently have a water quality monitor in the Simene at Magdalen Lane that takes readings every 30 minutes. Whilst the purpose of this monitoring is to provide detailed information on sediment flux in the Simene, if we did find evidence of pollution we would pass this to our Environment Management team to investigate further.

A summary of Water Framework Directive classification status for the Simene catchment is given on the Catchment Data Explorer: The classifications are high for dissolved oxygen and ammonia and good for phosphate and invertebrates. We have assessed that the failure to meet good ecological status for macrophytes is due to morphological constraints rather than water quality.

The Wessex Water storm overflow at West Bay Sluices is equipped with an event duration monitor and Wessex Water are required to provide annual and bathing water (May to September) returns to us each year detailing the number and duration of spills. This is in line with design expectations. It is worth noting that the bathing water quality at West Bay West is currently classified as ‘Excellent’:

2. Does the Dorset Council statement have any relevance to the development at Vearse Farm Bridport?

No. Nutrient neutrality is not relevant to this development because it is not within a defined protected site or river catchment. These nutrient neutrality requirements are implemented by Natural England who would also lead on advising Dorset Council on planning applications which fall within these areas.

Monitoring of phasing stages and trigger points relating to the FL development

These notes are from the agreement made between Dorset Council, Melvyn Richard Sparks and Yvonne Sparks, Philip John Colfox, Hallam Land Management Limited, The Royal Bank of Scotland. They relate to Section 106 Agreement concerning the development of Land at Vearse Farm, planning application WD/D/17/000986. The notes outline the obligations and covenants set out in the Agreement. They have been prepared to facilitate the monitoring of phasing stages and trigger points relating to the development.

The definitions in the agreement do not oblige the Owners to construct Affordable Commercial Development facilities.

The Care Home MAY be provided.

The owners covenant not to commence the development unless and until a Commencement Notice has been served on the Council. (7.1)

The Owners will serve notice on the council when trigger points occur. (7.2)

Trigger points are: –

Commencement of development of each phase. (7.1)

Occupation of 1st Dwelling in any phase. (7.2.1)

Occupation of 150th, 200th, 250th, 300th, 400th, 500th, 700th Dwelling. (7.2.3)

Occupation of 75% of Open Market Dwellings. (7.2.4)

Occupation of 90% of Open Market Dwellings. (7.2.5)

Completion of each phase. (7.2.6)

All notices and written communication between Owners and Council shall be served by registered post or recorded delivery (7.4)

Any sum referred to in Schedule 3 shall be based on the Index from 3rd November 2017 to the date on which the sum is payable. (Between 2017 and 2023 Index rose from 160 to 220, my approximation)

Schedule 3, Owner’s covenants

  1. Not to Commence Development until a Notice of Commencement has been served on the Council. (1.1)
  1. No phase to be started until affordable housing scheme for that phase has written approval from Council. (2.2)
  1. Not to permit occupation of 75% of Open Market Dwellings in each phase until affordable units have been constructed and substantially completed and transferred to an Approved Provider within that Phase. (2.6)
  1. The Affordable Housing provisions are not binding on a mortgagee (2.11.1)
  1. If Self-Build plots are not sold within 2 years they may be disposed of as open market plots.
  1. Not to permit occupation of more than 150 homes until Allotment Plan has been approved by Council. (4.1)
  1. Not to permit occupation of more than 600 dwellings until Allotments are completed. (4.2)
  1. Allotments should be transferred to Council or its nominee once no more than 200 dwellings have been completed for £1. (4.5)
  1. Not to occupy more than 400 Dwellings until the Owners have notified the Council that Employment Land has been provided (5.1)
  1. The Owners shall market the Local Centre from the date of the first Occupation of the 150th Dwelling or completion of first Phase for a continuous period of four years. (6.1) If after four years there has been insufficient response restriction on providing Local Centre will cease to have effect. (6.2)
  1. The Owners shall submit the Comprehensive Sports Pitch Scheme no later than the submission of the First Reserved Matters Application and will shall not cause or permit Commencement of the Development until Comprehensive Sports Pitch Scheme has been approved in writing by the Council. (7.1)
  1. The Owners shall not occupy more than 400 Dwellings until Sports Pitches are completed (7.4)
  1. Play Areas to be approved by Council for the part of relevant Property no later than date of submission of the first Reserved Matters Application for that Phase. (8.1)
  1. Not to occupy more than 200 Dwellings until first LEAP Area is delivered {Local Equipped Area of Play} (8.7)
  1. Not to occupy more than 400 Dwellings until MUGA and LEAP are delivered (8.8)
  1. Not to occupy more than 500 Dwellings until second LEAP Area is delivered (8.9)
  1. The owners shall submit Open Space Phasing Plan no later than the date of the submission of the first Reserved Matters Application. (9.1)
  1. The Owners shall not cause or permit Commencement of Development until 9.1 has been approved by the Council (9.2)
  1. The Owners shall submit the Landscape Environment Management Plan no later than the date of the submission of thew first Reserved Matters Application and shall not commence Development until the Landscape Environment Management Plan is approved pursuant to Condition 7 of the Planning Permission. (11.1)
  1. The Owners will invite the Council to inspect and approve Hedgerow Plans. (12.1)
  1. The Owners will pay three Hedgerow Payments prior to the occupation of 250, 500, and 750 Dwellings respectively (12.2)
  1. The Owners will pay 50% of the Bridport Leisure Centre Payment before 300 Dwellings are occupied. The remainder before 500 Dwellings are occupied (13.1)
  1. The owners shall pay the Healthcare Provision Payment prior to the occupation of 250 Dwellings. (13.2)
  1. Section 14 on Continuation Link is complex and detailed (but not very relevant)
  1. The Owners shall transfer the School Site to the Council prior to the occupation of the 50th Dwelling. (15.3)
  1. The Owners shall not Commence Development until 5% of the Education Contribution is paid to Council. (16.1)
  1. Not to Occupy more than 25% of Dwellings until a further 20% of Education Contribution has been paid to Council. (16.2)
  1. Not to Occupy more than 50% of Dwellings until a further 35% of Education Contribution has been paid to Council (16.3)
  1. Not to Occupy more than 75% of Dwellings until all Education Contribution has been paid. (16.5)
  1. Not to permit the Occupation of any Dwelling until the Provisional completion of the Miles Cross Junction Works (17.2)
  1. Not to permit the Occupation of any Dwelling until Contribution for B3162 has been paid to Council. (17.4)
  1. Not to permit the occupation of 150 Dwellings until the provisional Completion of the New Footway/Cycle Access Traffic Calming Works. (17.5)
  1. Not to permit the occupation of more than 150 Dwellings until Provisional Completion of the Mini Roundabout Minor improvement Works. (17.6)
  1. Not to permit the occupation of any Dwelling until it has paid the Existing Public Footpath Improvements Contribution to the Council. (17.7)
  1. Not to Commence Development or carry out any land clearance on THE PROPERTY until it has paid 20% of the Biodiversity Compensation Payment to the Council. (18.1)

NOTE: THE PROPERTY is clearly defined as land previously belonging to Vearse Farm, i.e. the hedge that has already been removed

  1. Not to permit Occupation of more than 149 Dwellings until it has paid all of the Biodiversity compensation Payment to the Council. (18.2)
  1. Not to Occupy any Dwelling in a Phase until a Surface Water Drainage Scheme for that Phase has been Approved and implemented. (19.1/2)

Miles Cross Roundabout Construction Traffic

An urgent plea to National Highways, Dorset Council and Barratt / Vistry as the developers of Foundry Lea

Concerning Miles Cross Roundabout Construction Traffic Management Plan (CTMP) and the Foundry Lea CTMP –

ADVEARSE has had communications over several years on this with National Highways.

Miles Cross Junction has long been a source of concern as evidenced by the long standing A35 working group which included the former MP and David Tett as a local councillor. This concern predates any additional construction traffic and is based on accident records and near misses. It is essential for those who are to take the decisions on the Vearse Farm development drive it to actually understand the dangers. Those who are not used to using the junction, get confused as to whether the right of way is with those waiting to turn right off the A35 or for those waiting in West Road to turn right onto the A35. Hesitation often occurs and this is compounded when the car turning into West Road sees a car speeding up the slip road off the East bound A35. Factor in busy times and frustration or nervousness and it feels like a black spot.

At present the planning conditions state that no occupation is possible until the roundabout is completed but construction can begin using an access road off the B3162 West Road. The CTMP for FL talks of 40/50 HGVs construction lorries per day plus 100 lighter vehicles. This amounts to 300 total journeys.

There are plenty of examples in the country – a good example being Crewe in Cheshire – where the roundabouts are installed before any development work commences. More locally, one is being installed in Chippenham prior to development commencing.

No CTMP for Miles Cross has been seen as yet. A CTMP for FL has been produced for Barratt and Vistry by GHPC. Dorset Council has indicated there is no formal right of consultation on this document or the discharge of Condition 20 in the OPP to which this relates, although the developers have indicated they are open to consultation.

We recommend that the planning condition related to this be revisited and urge

  1. that the roundabout be constructed before any construction traffic is allowed on site.
  2. That if this is not possible , no construction traffic approaching on the A35 from the east should be allowed to turn right into West Road
  3. That the CTMP for Miles Cross and that for the Foundry Lea site should be jointly prepared so there is a clear analysis of the risks of running both together .

Our key points

  1. Why does the FL construction traffic mean that the Roundabout should be completed before any construction begins on site? This is because of the dangers to road safety. A heavily laden brick lorry wishing to turn right off the A35 from the starting from a stop position with the limited visibility of traffic coming from the Chideock direction will be lucky to get across in time. National Highways spokesman has explained that the two schemes can work together for reasons of ‘proportionality and viability ‘. We commented to him that if by the latter he means Barratt need to sell houses to pay for the roundabout that is putting commercial gain above public safety and we would suggest that Barratt have plenty of reserves to pay for the roundabout.

2.There is no safe time in the day . Much of the discussion has centred on holiday traffic and the need to have limits on times when construction traffic can approach. We would argue that it is even more dangerous when the road is quiet and traffic, which has been slowed in Chideock, speeds down towards Miles Cross. The latest fatality took place at about 5.30 am! It should also be noted that the ‘holiday period ‘is no longer confined to the 6-week school holiday.

3.Both CTMPs should specify – No Right turn off A35 for construction traffic. In the early stages of the development at Vearse Farm there was talk that construction vehicles coming from the east (Crown Roundabout) would not be allowed to turn right into West Road. This would require the construction traffic to go to the Charmouth roundabout before turning and returning. The CTMP for FL is very vague on this and the matter needs a thorough investigation and a clear statement issued.

  1. Would temporary traffic lights help? We think not. This is at first glance a good suggestion and ,of course, our priority must be to provide safe driving conditions. In that sense, we would support it if it was the only option left.

However, when traffic lights were installed at Broomhills the National Highways insisted that there would be no right turn across the lights. Their argument will have been on safety grounds. We would assume they would object to a right turn at Miles Cross on the same basis. We would be very disappointed if we are prevented from turning right at Broomhills in a saloon car, but multimillion Barratt/ Vistry is allowed to have 50 HGVs a day turn right at Miles Cross.

Secondly, the temporary lights would presumably involve a filter system. As we know from the Bridport Town Hall lights, this means that the traffic coming from the direction without the filter has less time to negotiate the lights and the queue is that much longer. Imagine the queue back through Chideock over the summer.

Our other concern with the temporary traffic lights is that, should they appear to be working OK, the roundabout will never be built. This is the expectation of many people anyway who fear Dorset Council has little leverage over the developers.

  1. Informing the Bridport Public It is interesting to note that local people are assuming that the roundabout will be completed first. We have yet to meet a single person who agrees that it is possible to do other.
  1. Enforcing the CTMP – Dorset Council has responsibility for monitoring the CTMP – Who thinks Dorset will have the resources to do this? We are in danger of seeing restrictions on construction traffic repeatedly ignored.

We would like to see in writing the sanctions for breaking the CTMP.

Conclusion – We as a group have warned about this issue for many years . As we get nearer to the actual start of work it is urgent that the issues are addressed .

The chaos and potential risks which will result which will result from this failure to plan properly for the road construction must be addressed . We ask that you collectively revisit the issue and engage with local people in the decision making. We would appreciate a detailed response to our concerns and an explanation of what decision you make.