We have been in correspondence with Mr Garrity (Head of Planning, Economic Growth and Infrastructure at Dorset Council) about the VF application going to committee. Below is the letter sent by Barry Bates and the reply just received from Mr Garrity.

Highlighted in bold is the key part of the reply where he says “….this would be an application that I expect to go to Planning Committee for determination”

Under the Dorset Council constitution Mr Garrity has the power to make the final decision on whether an application is referred to committee irrespective of the councillor views. This seems a pretty good indication that this application will go to committee although the date is not known. So very good news and means that we will have an opportunity to make our concerns know at the committee meeting.

But we have to accept that the outline application is approved – so the development will go ahead and there is nothing we can do to prevent this. All we can do is to push Dorset Council and the developers to make sure that all the promised benefits to Bridport are delivered and that the risks of the development are properaly mitigated.

“Dear Mr and Mrs Bates,

Thank you for your email and letter regarding the Foundry Lea (Vearse Farm) reserved matters application. I believe your local councillors, and Cllr David Walsh, have advised you quite correctly as Dorset Council’s constitution sets out a committee referral process before a final decision is made on whether or not to take an application to committee. Therefore, at the point you asked the question, there would not have been a definitive answer.

Although this is a reserved matters application (and therefore the principle of development has been established), I am aware that it is of great local interest and is clearly significant in scale. I am therefore able to confirm that this would be an application that I expect to go to Planning Committee for determination. However, as yet I cannot give you an indication of a committee date as we will not know this until the case officer has been in a position to fully assess the proposal.

Kind regards,

Mike Garrity, Head of Planning, Economic Growth and Infrastructure

Dear Mr Garrity,

Ref: Reserved Matters stage of the Foundry Lea application

We have been unable to obtain assurances from our local councillors that the application will be referred to the Planning Committee. This is both disappointing and worrying and I hope you will be able to give that assurance.

I would point out the following for your consideration

  • I have written to both the Planning Officers and Councillor Walsh on a number of occasions since Outline Planning Permission was granted to make the case. I can supply copies if you require them. I have added a reply from Mr Walsh dated 25 /11 /20 at the bottom of this letter.
  • We have asked Barratt and Vistry and they stated that they would expect an application of this complexity to go before Committee.
  • At the Outline Planning Hearing Officers stated that issues not covered then would be fully covered at the reserved matters stage. We believe that a number of these should be fully explored at a public hearing of the Committee.
  • The judge at the Judicial Review was very critical of the WDDC planners handling of the OPP. Dorset Council has an opportunity to establish a different reputation in its handling of the reserved matters stage.
  • To quote Mr Walsh, there is significant ‘public interest ‘in this development. In coming to your decision, you may wish to consider the reaction should you decide that it can simply remain as ‘ delegated to Officers.’ This case has much wider implications about democratic engagement and accountability in Dorset and how local councillors are able to represent the views of their residents. I urge you to refer it to the Committee.

I hope you can speedily reassure me and if possible, suggest the likely date for the Planning Committee meeting so we can secure the date in our diary. If there is any likelihood that the matter will be delegated to Officers, I would appreciate it if you could explain the reasons for that decision and do so well before decision time.

I would be grateful if you could forward the copy to Anna Lee whose e-mail address I do not have .

Anyone of the points made in this letter can be expanded upon if you require . Please contact me if you wish to discuss further .I look forward to hearing from you .

Yours sincerely

Barry Bates

 Extract from Mr Walsh’s letter

Part 3 of the Council’s Constitution includes the Officer Scheme of Delegation which sets out the circumstances, at para 134, in which applications will be referred to Planning Committee.  Usually, the decision is taken by the Service Manager for Development Management and Enforcement, and she will consider requests from the Town Council or Dorset Councillor(s) for the matter to be determined by Planning Committee.  In this case, I hope I can offer reassurances that, for any significant scale reserved matters application at Vearse Farm, officers would be giving very careful consideration to whether the application should be referred to the planning committee in any event, given the level of public interest in this development. Planning Officers do not “rubberstamp” applications.  They subject any applications to rigorous scrutiny and only approve applications which are acceptable in planning terms.

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