I made a response to the original submission and, in framing this new response, I have examined the responses made by other individuals and organisations to the original submission and looked through the revised submission. Via ADVEARSE, I have been involved with correspondence with organisations such as Wessex Water and National Highways to explore the issues on which I am commenting. I am happy to supply further details as required.
I have no complaint about Barrett and Vistry who have been proactive and professional in their relationship with the ADVEARSE group. My complaint remains with the national planning process and the handling of this development by the planners in Dorchester. I am, however, grateful that the submission has been referred to the Planning Committee.
At the Outline Planning Stage, the Planning Committee were told that they were only to rule on the issue of access and that there would be a fuller opportunity to discuss the broader issues at the next stage. We are now at that stage, and I would urge Councillors on the Planning Committee to provide that democratic input into the decision-making process. I fully recognise that it would take a brave Council to decide to stop a development such as this at this stage.
I would, however, ask that the Planning Committee to
- Recognise that the scheme is inappropriate
- It remains the largest development incursion into AONB ever in the country. Such developments in AONB should be granted in ‘exceptional circumstances. No such circumstances have ever been demonstrated at Vearse Farm.
- Taken as a whole the responses to the original submission demonstrate that a massive development on this scale is inappropriate for a town the size of Bridport.
- The site itself was, as Taylor Wimpey stated at the Local Plan stage, is inappropriate in so many respects.
A number of Councillors at the OPP decision voted in favour ‘with reluctance’. I am asking the members who will consider these revised plans to take on board the reservations which were expressed in the original consultation; to actively consider whether or not to approve the scheme and (if acceptance is inevitable) at least reflect in the decision the deep concerns of the residents they represent.
- Withhold approval until the remaining concerning issues have been tackled and in doing so demonstrate that they can actually secure improvements.
The revised plans are largely to do with the Design Codes. Barrett and Vistry have indeed responded to the initial responses and the improvements made are to be welcomed. ADVEARSE has analysed the revised submission in relation to the other issues which attracted critical comment and questions in the original submission. We find most have not been addressed and, even worse, some of the papers in the revised submission are merely a rehash of those submitted in December2021.
The fact that the developers have improved the sections on the Design Code in response to criticisms should encourage the Committee to withhold approval in order to affect more improvements. This is such a major event in the history of Bridport and once approval is given it will be too late.
So why should the Planning Committee withhold approval?
- There are no plans for the employment land. The scheme was passed as a mixed-use scheme and the number of houses were justified because of the new employment and additional benefits which will be brought to the town. Planning Committee should wait until the scheme as a whole is available for approval.
- OFWAT has put Wessex Water on the list of water companies about which it has ‘serious concerns. The concerns that sewage will be discharged into the sea or rivers together with concerns about drainage of rainwater are very real. We have only the vaguest sketches of plans to deal with the extra created by Foundry Lea. I urge the Council to seek independent assessments on both issues before approving the scheme.
- Climate Crisis – Barret and Vistry are racing to obtain approval so that they can avoid the upcoming challenges of new building regulations. Other respondees have written in great detail about what more could be achieved. Councillors should heed the crisis and demand a higher level of sustainability. At the very least we need greater clarity on 2 issues
- What sources of heating will be used on the site?
- Can Bridport’s electricity supply be guaranteed granted the extra demand FL will bring?
- Although there are the window dressing items – allotments, riverside walk within the scheme- in reality, the scheme has not planned anything to manage the impact of all those households on the town as a whole. I would highlight just three
- Car parking which is already over capacity on market days and in holidays
- The dangers of access on the narrow pavements and road junctions from Foundry Lea into town from both Skilling and on West Road.
- Medical services- Already the Ammonite Practice is writing to patients advising of the stresses the system is under. We cannot recruit GPs and Dentists to serve the current population.
I appreciate the reasons why the Planning Committee might feel pressured to approve this scheme. Yet there remain compelling reasons why the scheme, as it stands, remains a massive failure to plan a sustainable future for the area.