Dorset Council has published the results of its “call for sites”, a key step in the preparation of any new Local Plan. The promoted sites fall into three broad categories, those suitable now, those suitable subject to policy change and those deemed unsuitable.
Brett Spiller, Director at Chapman Lily Planning noted that “there are several allocated sites within the list of those suitable now, including 760 new dwellings at Verse Farm in Bridport, several hundred dwellings around Chickerill near Weymouth and sites in Blandford. These existing allocations have been slow to get going and hence and so I suspect have been re-promoted as a backstop. This feeds through into the scale of the blue dots on the map below, distorting the overall picture. Suitable sites for over 1,000 homes are identified in Bridport, over 1,400 new homes in Weymouth and Chickerell, and 766 new homes in Blandford. None of the above will come as a surprise to avid followers of Dorset’s housing land supply.”
Otherwise there is a fairly even distribution of sites. Perhaps of greater interest is those sites that are considered suitable subject to policy change. Brett observed that “areas such as Alderholt and Wimborne stand out as having potential, but there area also a scattering of opportunities across the other market towns” and expressed concern that “the assessments appear very crude, with very poor explanation for why some sites have been deemed unsuitable. The suitable sites represent around three years of Dorset’s housing needs, ignoring the fact that many are a legacy of past undersupply. Thus significant new sites will still need to be found and we suspect that some of those sites that have been cursorily dismissed in the SHLAA will have to be introduced through the Local Plan process, supported by more detailed evidence and mitigation measures.”
Interestingly much of the land north of Dorchester has been dismissed, as have some sites in Weymouth despite being identified as potentially credible options in previous planning documents. Thus the real test and opportunity to push sites will be through consultation on Issues and Options. We eagerly await an update on programme from Dorset Council, having regard to Covid, resource shortages and the Governments tabled planning reforms.
For further information on the SHLAA or advice on how you can promote your land, please contact Chapman Lily Planning .