HEDGEROW DESTRUCTION UPDATE

We understand that the developers (Barratts and Vistry) will be making an effort to rectify the damage as best they can.

This will involve replacing the 19 trees that were chopped down with 25 semi-mature native trees from a local company. Although the hedgerow root system is still in place and will grow back, they will also be planting new hedgerow too.

If anyone sees any of this activity then please let us know.

Press Release on Foundry Lea – the destruction of hedgerows

ADVEARSE is aware of the widespread anger which has been created by the destruction of two large lengths of hedgerow at the sites of the planned entrances to the Foundry Lea development . We understand that there was a mistake made by those carrying out the work.

The developers announced that the preliminary site clearance work would be “….the removal of small sections of the hedge line ..” and comply with the “Hedgerow removal” on the tree retention plan 10042-E-D approved by the Dorset Council Tree Officer.

Instead contractors working for the developers have been responsible for wanton destruction of decades-old mature trees and ancient hedgerows.

We are at a loss as to how this could have occurred when the plans for protecting and retaining these trees and hedgerows were clearly spelt out. The developers claim that they will put this destruction right is laughable. Dorset Council must launch their own investigation and take legal action against the developers to ensure that this transgression does not go unpunished. Also additional monitoring of the developers actions are put in place with these additional costs being paid for by the developers.

The start of the work has brought home to residents the reality of what such a massive development will mean within the Dorset AONB . The developers have set out in their plans to preserve some of the environmental features on the site. But this will by no means cover all the hedges and trees. We hope that residents will continue to monitor the work being carried out to ensure that the developers stick to the conditions of the planning consent.

Supporter Feedback Request

Last month Foundry Lea received the reserved matters approval with the help of the votes of our local Bridport councillors on the Dorset Council planning committee. This means that we have no leverage to ask for any changes in the detailed plans or improvements in the local infrastructure.

Any changes or improvements now rest on the goodwill of the developers or Dorset Council.

We have a good relationship with the developers who told us directly that they would be open to consider ideas from the local people but any which impact on their profits of extend the Foundry Lea timescale would be rejected. We have found it very difficult to secure any constructive dialogue with Dorset Council.

At present we are continuing to secure better outcomes on some of the main issues which concern our supporters. We are pressing hard for the construction of the roundabout to be completed before any construction traffic can enter the site . We will also be chasing up concerns about sewage discharges and will be attending a meeting called by the local business Chamber with Western Power about ensuring there will be sufficient capacity of electricity. We are reflecting hard on how our efforts may be best targeted. We see no real prospect of getting anywhere on our other main requests eg increased use of renewables, further independent assurances on flood risk, bringing forward the provision of employment land, improved traffic safety, medical centre funding etc.

On a positive note Bridport Town Council have set up a Foundry Lea Working Group which includes some local councillors, local interest groups, the developers and a Dorset Council representative. The aim of this group is to facilitate the Foundry Lea development. Advearse have been invited to join this group and will attend the next meeting

At our last meeting we discussed the latest situation and considered the future of Advearse and its role going forward. We would really welcome your feedback as we decide what to do.

In particular:

Do you see a value in Advearse continuing and if so want do you think its aims should be?

Do you think Advearse should take up the seat on the Foundry Lea Working Group?

Would you like to be a member of the Advearse team and take an active role in furthering these aims?

Notes from August Advearse Meeting

On 22 August we held an Advearse meeting and discussed the outstanding issues and actions we had after the recent reserved matters approval.

We noted that this approval meant there was no leverage that we could bring to bear on the developers or Dorset Council to force changes to the development plans. Any changes remain at the goodwill of the developers.

Bridport Town Council have set up a Foundry Lea Working Group which will periodically meet with the developers and other interested parties during the course of the development over the next 5+ years. This should provide a means for local people to raise concerns about the development and its impact on the town. Advearse have been offered a seat at this group and we are considering if/how to take this up.

We are also considering the future of Advearse and will be having a meeting on 14 September to look at our options. We would be very interested to hear from supporters about what they think we should do.

A quick update on our actions and the outstanding issues is noted below:

  1. We wrote our local MP to ask for his support in asking for changes to the development plans. His response was that it was too late to request changes.
  2. We have written to Dorset Council raising yet again our ongoing concerns with pedestrian access from Foundry Lea to the town centre and the local area. These concerns were dismissed at the recent reserved matters planning meeting as being immaterial and that the narrow footpaths were considered to be safe!
  3. We are in correspondence with National Highways regarding plans to start the construction of Foundry Lea alongside the building of the Miles Cross roundabout. There are serious traffic congestion and safety issues about these happening at the same time.
  4. We have made an official complaint to Dorset Council about how the reserved matters application was conduction. For example limiting the ability of the public to speak at the meeting and the failure of the council planning officer to directly address the questions/concerns raised.
  5. There are legal issues relating to the development not complying with the 2010 Equalities Act by failing to provide sufficient housing which addresses the needs of disabled or elderly people. The council have dismissed these concerns so we will be raising with relevant organisations and charities to see what else can be done.
  6. Concerns about the impact of Foundry Lea on the local electricity network remain unanswered. These were ignored when raised at the planning meeting. Western Power have told us that the Bridport electric network is out of date and not suited to a mass housing development of the size of Foundry Lea. But as the development has been given permission they have no choice but to provide access to the local network.

Will Foundry Lea impact Bridport electricity network

Bridport Chamber of Trade and Commerce are concerned about the impact of Foundry Lea on the local electricity network and are holding a Zoom meeting on 4 October to dicuss this issue.

Their intention is to gather support and put pressure on Western Power to take action to ensure that Bridport power supply is safeguarded.

Anyone interested or concerned should join the meeting. We will provide full details in a later post.

Will the Foundry Lea development impact local river bank stability?

A local resident on Magdalen Lane has raised concerns about the Simene river bank not being in a stable stable condition. This issue would not only impact their house but also other residences in the locality.

The river banks are weak and will not tolerate extra water pressure which could come as a result of the Foundry Lea development which is next to this stretch of the river.

It is well known that the field next to the river floods every winter. Flood precautions are promised but work is also needed to protect the river banks ensuring the integrity of the river Simene from the proposed application site to its joining the river Brit.

Works would be needed to the development side of the riverbank especially where the foot/cycle path is and where run off pipes for surface drainage are positioned. Strengthening works to only one part would put more strain on parts not addressed especially with the additional water flow.

We have raised this concern with Barratts/Vistry and are awaiting a response.

PRESS RELEASE – ADVEARSE COMMENT ON FOUNDRY LEA RESERVED MATTERS PLANNING APPLICATION BEING GRANTED

On 4 August Dorset Council Western & Southern Planning Committee granted the reserved matters planning application for Foundry Lea (Vearse Farm).

This is a huge disappointment to Advearse who have campaigned for the last 9 years to have this plan refused because of its impact on an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) as well as the negative impact on a small market town with limited infrastructure to support the influx of over 2,000 new residents. This represents a massive 20% increase in the local population.

Dorset Council have justified this development on the basis that it is “appropriate” and in the authority’s housing plan. Serious concerns that Advearse have being raising over the last 9 years have been repeatedly dismissed or ignored by Dorset Council or its predecessor West Dorset District Council. The fact that the Vearse Farm development was included in the Local Plan was used as an excuse to force approval by the Planning Committee at the Outline Planning Application (OPP) in 2017. The fact that the OPP had been approved was used last Thursday to persuade the committee members that the plans were set in stone and that they could not be amended. Sadly only two councillors saw fit to object to the application and demand that more was done to at least make the application carbon neutral.

In 2019 Advearse challenged the OPP via a Judicial Review. Although building on the AONB is only allowed in exceptional circumstance the judge took the view that building housing in a county which has a large amount of AONB designated land was sufficient reason to dismiss our JR.

Since 2019 our focus has been on campaigning for the best outcome for Bridport from this development. Alongside others we have been able to prompt the developers to improve the detailed plans submitted in December 2021. The amended plans submitted in June 2022 do not go far enough in addressing the serious concerns raised and requests by us and others for further changes were rejected by council officers.

Astonishingly, instead of setting aside a full day for study and comprehensive discussion and debate on an application of such huge scale, which will massively affect the future of Bridport, the Council shunted this critical application into an agenda with several other minor planning issues. Moreover, in the last few days before the meeting – and despite strong urgent written objections from Advearse and individuals to the Chief Executive of Dorset Council – objectors were astonished to learn that the number of members of the public and organisations who would allowed to speak against the application would limited back to just six people, each having a mere 3 minutes to speak: 18 minutes for a 760 home application. Sadly, a councillor’s request there should be a Site Visit was then voted down.

As a result due to the negligence of Dorset Council this development as it stands will over the next decade see real risks and damage to the Bridport and its residents. Our continuing concerns include:

  1. Risk to pedestrians using narrow footpaths on busy roads walking from the development into the town centre given the large increase in traffic that Foundry Lea will bring.
  2. Lunacy of the current plans to allow construction traffic for the building site to go ahead at the same time as the building of the Miles Cross roundabout on the A35. This will greatly increase the risk to road users.
  3. The planners have ignored the Council’s own CLIMATE EMERGFENCY DECLARATION and will allow over 300 homes to be built with gas boilers. There is minimal provision for solar panels.
  4. As yet there are no plans actually agreed with Wessex Water regarding the management of the sewerage and ground water run off which the site will create with increase in discharges of sewage into the sea whilst the prospect of flooding elsewhere in Bridport and West Bay is ever more likely.
  5. At the approval meeting the planners could offer no guarantees from Western Power about whether it can provide for Bridport’s electricity needs once Foundry Lea is underway.
  6. Lack of any plans at all for the employment land promised as part of the mixed use development.

Advearse will be holding a meeting later this month to decide on our next steps and how we can hold the council and developers to meeting their promises to the people of Bridport.

Advearse would like to thank the individuals who have supported our campaign and also Dorset CPRE who have been steadfast in their opposition

FOUNDRY LEA PLANNING APPLICATION GRANTED

The Foundry Lea (Vearse Farm) reserved matters application was granted by the Dorset Council Planning Committee this afternoon.

This is needless to say a great disappointment given the multiple issues and concerns raised by ourselves and many Bridport residents over a long period of time. The councillors on the committee also raised concerns but the council officers made it clear that the councillors had in effect little choice other than to accept the reserved matters application as it stood without any changes.

We will say more in due course about what transpired at the committee meeting and the serious concerns that were raised and how these were denied or circumvented. We will be issuing a press release and hope that the local media and newspapers will publish it.

We can now expect work to start on this development in the near future as the developers want to build/have started 318 houses by June 2025 (phase 1) to avoid having to meet the new 2025 building standards. The Miles Cross roundabout will commence early 2023 and take 6 months to complete.

Whilst there are positives from Foundry Lea such as the affordable housing there are many negatives for Bridport that will only start to be fully realised in the years to come.

DORSET COUNCIL STOPPING PEOPLE SPEAKING AT THE FOUNDRY LEA PLANNING MEETING

Local people asking to speak against the Foundry Lea (Vearse Farm) reserved matters planning application on 4 August are being told that there is a limit of 3 people permitted to speak. A number of us have been told that the limit has been reached and so we are being silenced. The papers for the meeting are on the council website and the brief summary of objections made do not do justice to the large number of detailed objections made. We believe that the best way for the councillors on the planning committee to understand the depth of local concerns is to hear them first hand.

Please help with getting the council to change their mind by emailling the chair of the planning committee David Shortell (cllrdavid.shortell@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk) and the Chief Executive (chiefexecutive@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk) to complain about this arbitrary rule and lack of local democracy. Please ask anyone else you know who may also be concerned to do the same.

Below is our email to Mr Shortell asking for his help in righting this injustice.

Dear Sir,

Ref: Committee Meeting 04 August 2022

I am writing to ask you to exercise the Chair’s discretion and allow all that wish to speak on the agenda item relating to Vearse Farm to do so.

I have been sent the guidelines which restrict speaker numbers to 3 in favour and 3 against the proposal. Whilst the restriction might be reasonable for a small development, I would argue that for an application of this size and of such public interest all who wish to should speak.

ADVEARSE has tracked responses to the revised plans and anticipates that numbers will be lower than those who spoke at the OPP stage. It may well be that numbers are manageable and even, if the meeting was as a result to last the full day, then it would surely be worthwhile in terms of local democracy. We have had criticisms about the consultation processes stretching back to the WDDC Local Plan. I can give you details of these if you wish.

I appreciate that Barratt and Vistry should be consulted before you agree to the request but they like Dorset Council have little to lose and much to gain by allowing full open discussion of the proposal.

It would be helpful to have a speedy response because some potential speakers may have been deterred by the limit on speakers and there is little time left to prepare and submit a request.

With best wishes

Barry Bates

Campaign Site