Dorset Council has recently launched a public consultation on the Dorset Council Local Plan.
Since the formation of Dorset Council in 2019, work has been ongoing to produce a Local Plan. It is vitally important that the Council has an up to date plan to ensure we avoid speculative planning.
The proposals, which are at an early stage, will cover development for the period of 2021-2038. There are several sites identified within our local area and Michael wants residents to be aware and have the chance to have your say in the consultation.
Why do we need a Local Plan?
It’s really important to have a Local Plan. The plan sets out housing and employment sites, and without it, developers are more likely to try and build wherever they can get planning permission. Having a plan means that the council can more easily reject speculative planning applications. Without a plan, these applications may go to appeal and then be accepted. When this happens, it is more difficult for the council to get funding for infrastructure like parks, or make sure that developers include affordable housing.
The best way to make sure that houses are built in the right place, with infrastructure and affordable houses, is to have a Local Plan. However, the key to a successful Local Plan is to get the right homes in the right places and the best way to do that is to consult with the community.
When do I have to respond?
The consultation opened on 18th January 2021 and will run until 15th March 2021. Michael urges all residents to respond, even at this early stage.
How to I find out more?
You can find out more about the proposals and have your say at the following link: https://www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/planning-buildings-land/planning-policy/dorset-council-local-plan.aspx
There are also printed copies of the Local Plan consultation document in each of Dorset’s libraries. These are available for ‘click and collect’ loan and they will be quarantined in between loans so as to minimise the risk.
There will be a series of online webinars and podcasts, and a dedicated telephone line for people who would like to discuss anything to do with the plan. You can use this line to talk to members of the planning policy team about the issues in the plan, or you can request that they send you a paper response form.
More details about the webinars can be found here
Where are the possible building sites?
Several newly allocated sites are within the Green Belt. Michael strongly believes that the Green Belt should be protected and alternative sites, outside of the Green Belt should be sought and prioritised. Locally, the Green Belt serves as an important environmental asset for wildlife and for local people. It also acts as a buffer that maintains the individual identities of local towns and villages.
You can see exactly where the possible sites are here https://www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/planning-buildings-land/planning-policy/dorset-council-local-plan.aspx
Will this mean building on the Green Belt?
Significant development has already taken place locally and it is therefore vital that the remaining Green Belt is protected. Michael has raised concerns with Dorset Council as part of the consultation process and he encourages all local residents to consider doing so too.
What about the current pandemic?
In light of the ongoing pandemic, concerns have been raised about the timescales for this consultation. Michael has raised these concerns with Dorset Council and asked that additional time be given so that everyone can participate, especially those who are not online and are currently staying safe at home.
What is Michael doing?
Michael has met with local community leaders to discuss this matter and has been contacted by a large number of local residents. These plans are still at an early stage and it is right that the Council is consulting on their plans.
Michael is helping the Council to publicise the consultation through social media channels, through his regular columns for local news, and by writing to residents. He is encouraging as many people as possible to share their views with the council through the consultation process.
Does Michael decide where houses will be built?
Michael is very clear that decisions about the Local Plan should be made locally by elected Councillors rather than by MPs in Westminster. Individual MPs cannot overrule decisions made by the council. Michael has written to the leader of Dorset Council detailing his views, and you can find a copy of this letter below. Michael will also be contributing to the formal consultation.
Michael said “This is an important opportunity to shape the future of our areas for decades to come and I hope that you will join me in participating in the consultation.”