We have been in correspondance with Dorset Council to try and get some clarity on what is happending with the Detailed Planning Application for the VF development.

It has taken some time but we have an email response from James Lytton-Trevers, Lead Project Officer (Southern & Western), Economic Growth and Infrastructure. This is shown below in quotation marks.

Our biggest concern was that the detailed plans for VF might be approved by delegated authority (ie a council official) and not go to the planning committee. So there would be no opportunity for the people of Bridport to have their views heard at the committee meeting.

It is a long email response and the process described is complicated. The bottom line is that there is still no guarantee that we will get the detailed plans presented to the planning committee.

“I refer to your undated letter to Cllr. David Walsh and I, which you forwarded to the Chief Executive on 29 September 2021. You also mentioned that you had sent this to us in August, but in all honesty I did not receive it or I would have replied.

You refer to my reply to a different question on 1 August 2021 which I have included below for clarity for the other recipients of this. Thank you for acknowledging the position of the Local Planning Authority (LPA), although I would maintain that the LPA does take a robust approach to these matters if breaches occur. However, in this instance no breach of planning permission has occurred and there is no action I could take.

There is currently no planning application for reserved matters before me, so I cannot say what path such an application would take to reach a decision until such time if and when I receive it. However, I can explain the typical process that the LPA would follow on receipt of, say, an application for reserved matters for a development somewhere in the Dorset Council area. It would be improper for me to comment specifically on someone’s land and what they might want to do on it where there is nothing before me

An application for reserved matters would be advertised with notices in the usual way on and around the site. Consultations would take place with statutory consultees and non-statutory consultees including both a Parish Council and a Town Council (if it lay in both). The ward members would be notified. During the ensuing period there is an opportunity for consultees to make consultation responses and members of the public to make representations. This period would normally end after 21 days.

Once the consultation period has expired, if there are minor issues which have been raised by the consultee comments, representations or the LPA which can be resolved, the LPA may seek to resolve these. Once the LPA has sufficient information on which to reach a decision, an Officer of the LPA would normally prepare a report which would include a recommendation. In most cases a decision to grant or refuse planning permission is delegated. For example, if there is a planning application for a development which the parish council, ward member and LPA support, the decision is normally delegated. It is when the contrary happens that the Scheme of Delegation is triggered.

If an application needs to be referred to the Scheme of Delegation, the way in which the decision is taken, whether it be delegated to a nominated officer of the LPA or referred to a committee of elected members, would need to pass through the Scheme of Delegation process which is set out in the Dorset Council Constitution. In simple terms, this is a cascade system where consultee comments received from parish and town Councillors are referred to the Chair of the planning committee, Vice chair and Ward Members, whom can comment accordingly whether they consider the application should be delegated or referred to committee. Any responses received would be referred to the Head of Planning who would have regard to the planning application, consultee comments, representations and the recommendation. The Head of Planning would then reach a view whether or not to delegate a decision or refer it to a committee.

It is important to note that the Scheme of Delegation is seen as a fair way in which to decide the course of an application for planning permission. It has to be fair to the public as well as the applicant. So, for example, if there were an application which received some support from some, but for which despite some support, there was overwhelming objection by consultees and the public, it did not comply with Local Plan policy, etc and the LPA recommended refusal of it, it would not normally be necessary to refer it to the Scheme of Delegation. And vice versa.

I cannot comment further than this as at this point in time where there is no application before me. I have explained the process through which all applications made to the LPA need to pass through. The LPA could not single out specific applications for special scrutiny for the reasons I have set out above.

I hope this helps explain the process to you and let me know if I can explain further. I have copied this reply to Cllr. David Walsh and the Chief Executive as you sent your original letter to them.”


  1. Have Savills any comments to make on this or proposed dates for building work to commence ? and I presume that section 27 is still to be fulfilled before anything can start at all ? Seems that Barratts are in no hurry to start building work I wonder why ???

    1. Thanks George. We are talking directly with the developers on this. They are not currently forthcoming on exactly when work will start. Not sure about Section 27? Our understanding is that the roundabout is needed before houses can be occupied.

  2. I share the concern that the opportunity for public comment might be reduced or eliminated.

    The VF development will involve a substantial increase in the population of the town, and there will be a huge impact on the community/infrastructure of Bridport.
    Dorset Council as both a Planning Authority, and as our elected County Council, has a duty to maintain control overthis impact. The effects will be felt as soon as work first begins, and will continue long after the development is completed – in other words, for the next 15 or 20 years.

    I would support efforts to establish in the long term a consultative body representing comunity bodies, Town and Parish Councils which would liaise with the developer(s) and Dorset Council officials and elected Councillors.

    As far as the forthcoming detailed application is concerned, I am worried that insufficient attention might be paid to the fact that the outline permission which was granted, covers both housing AND support infrastructure. When they considered the application, Dorset Council looked at both elements as a whole. Both elements are very much dependant on each other, and both should proceed at the same rate when building starts.

    I understand that the ownership of the entire site lies in different hands. The advertising hoarding that has recently appeared on the A35, adjacent to the Symondsbury turn, significantly, refers only to housing development.
    The site as a whole needs jobs, school places and leisure space for the new residents, and to ignore this issue, even in the short term, would put immediate pressure on Bridport’s existing infrastructure.
    It isn’t clear to me how the parallel development of these two elements will be managed. Surely it should be a prime consideration for Dorset Council officers and elected Councillors? Has this group any information on this important issue?

    I was disappointed that the recent planning application for the pedestrian/cycle access to the development site, lacked an understanding of how the town’s existing infrastructure actually works. I feel sure that there are lessons to be learnt here for all the parties involved.

    1. Thanks John. A detailed comment and good points – I’ll get back to you with some more responses. A few quick points:
      there is a VF working group that involves Bridport Town council, Dorset Council, developers, Neighbourhhod group. I am not sure how long its remit will last but will see what Sarah Carney who is on the group has to say on this.
      My undertanding is that the detailed plans cover infrastructre and housing (insofaras provided by the developers).
      The school/sholp and leisure elements within the development are provided by the developers. the employment land is owned by Colfox. We have not been given any details of the intentions on this and it seems it may well come after the housing. We are seeking to meet with the agents for Symondsbury estate to discuss this issue.

  3. It seems this Vearse Farm development is not exactly what you might call straightforward. I have heard that the Miles Cross roundabout has now been kicked down the road even more with no plans for commencement at all next year. I have also heard of a potential power supply problem for the development itself, as in there isn’t enough in Bridport and obtaining more is very challenging. Maybe, all the houses planned should have solar roofs, turbines in the gardens and Ground source heat pumps as standard? Just sayin’…

    1. Phil – thanks. Miles Cross – you may well be right as we just know it is being delayed. On power supply can you provide some more details. Great point re the solar etc – but the developers are not interested in carbon neutral etc – at lweast the lastr time we talked to them!

  4. I believe that the section 278 agreement between Hallam and highways England states that no occupancy of the site can take place until the roundabout is complete this includes builders living on site, also a detailed traffic plan must be submitted before work can start on the roundabout. If The builders ignore the building of the roundabout I believe it would be up to Dorset council to instigate legal proceedings to make sure they comply.
    I think it is within the power of Highways England to halt the development if a traffic plan is not submitted. These legal points might be worth following up? Knowing Barratts of old they will try to get away with as much as they can !

  5. With further contact with Highways England they say that the traffic plan will be lodged with Dorset Council and this should be shown and discussed with H.E. As yet this has not happened, although H.E. Would have a say in this the approval will be with Dorset Council lets hope they have a bit more concern than the now defunct West Dorset Council ?

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