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The Dorset Council Local Plan

It won’t win any literary prizes, but it might change the Bridport area.  The video guides below, from Bridport Town Council, tell you a bit about it and how you can get involved.  The first (10 mins 17 secs) gives an introduction to the plan, its contents and the Town Council’s view.  The second (3 mins 16 secs) is a shorter version that doesn’t include the Town Council’s view.

And if you’d rather read the guide than watch and listen, the information is reproduced  in text form below the videos.

Here’s the full video:

And here’s the shorter version:

Read the Town Council’s agreed detailed response to the consultation here.

Support our view?  Click here to email Dorset Council and let them know.

Text Version of the video:

The Dorset Council Local Plan

It won’t win any literary prizes, but it might change the Bridport area.  This brief guide from Bridport Town Council tells you a bit about it and how you can get involved.

So, what is it and why is it important?

Dorset Council has produced a draft Local Plan that aims to guide what can be built and where in the Dorset Council area up to 2038, covering issues like housing, employment, the environment and climate change, and community services – that’s things like buses and other public transport, schools, retail, leisure and community halls. It also contains a section specifically focusing on the future of the Western Dorset area, which includes proposals for Bridport such as:

  1. Housing and other developments at Vearse Farm. There is already permission in outline for 760 homes but the plan will guide the detail of how these are delivered along with employment and community facilities.  The plan also sets out how a further 170 homes could be added.
  2. The expansion of Bridport town centre, with the Bus Station and Waitrose Car Park identified as possible areas for development.
  3. The redevelopment of St Michael’s Trading Estate.
  4. Proposals for a ‘care village’ and key worker homes on land at Flood Lane and the former Fisherman’s Arms site off South Street, and
  5. Housing developments adjacent to Bridport Hospital and on land to the East of Bredy Veterinary Centre.

Think about how these things affect you and your company, organisation or family.  When did you last ask “Why have they allowed that to be built?” or “Why haven’t we got a school/community hall/supermarket/park/business park/other near us?”  If we don’t give our views on these things when the Local Plan is written, we’re less likely to get the things we need in our area.  That’s why we’re encouraging people to respond to a consultation that Dorset Council is carrying out now.  It ends on 15th March 2021.

Got that? So how can you get involved? Especially if you don’t have much time or don’t understand the document.

The draft Local Plan is over 600 pages long, and a lot of what’s written is, let’s face it, really boring.  It’s also full of jargon.  Most of us simply aren’t going to read it, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give your views.  You definitely should, and we hope this guide will help.

Of course, some people will want to spend time looking at the detail, and if you’re one of them, you can find full detail of the local plan, along with an online form to respond to the current consultation, at

Keeping up? Good. What else is in there that you might be interested in?

The Local Plan is basically a list of development policies – rules that must be met by anyone wanting permission to build something, change the way a building is used, change a building, or use land.  The 600+ pages provide a lot of supporting text explaining the policies and the evidence that shows why they are needed.

The Dorset Council plan is divided into 10 sections:

  1. Introduction: a brief introduction to the Dorset Council area highlighting the main issues and challenges that face the area.
  2. Development Strategy: this section has a vision for the area and the big issues that the Council is looking to tackle by managing development (what gets built and where, and how land is used). It sets a target of over 30,000 new homes to be delivered up to 2038, and the number of jobs that will be needed. It also sets out how development will differ in different parts of the area, using a hierarchy of large to smaller places.
  3. Environment: this part has policies that aim to manage the impact of development on Dorset’s environment, covering biodiversity, pollution, flooding, coastal erosion, landscape, and heritage. It also covers ‘amenity’ – how development affects residents’ individual properties.
  4. Housing: contains policies setting out the mix of homes that are expected on development sites including the size and type of homes, the provision of affordable homes, the proportion of affordable homes that developers have to provide, the delivery of care facilities, and how homes for rural workers will be managed.
  5. Economy: includes the approach to development on employment sites, managing town centre development, and developments for tourism sector and agriculture.
  6. Community Infrastructure: this section sets out how Dorset Council covers the approach to education, recreation, sports and other community facilities. It also sets out the requirements for the transport network including the provision of parking and electric vehicle charging points, and telecoms infrastructure including full-fibre broadband. The approach to managing renewable energy development is also covered.

Sections 7 to 10 are four area based chapters setting out approach to managing development in South Eastern, Central, Northern and Western Dorset.  The Western Dorset section, section 10, includes specific proposals and policies for Bridport and West Bay, some of them highlighted earlier.

OK, so you’re interested.  What next?

If these issues are important to you, you have three options:

  1. Respond to the consultation using the online form at
  2. If you don’t have time for the form, email your written comments to [email protected]; or
  3. Lie back, do nothing, and remind yourself of that when something gets built that you don’t like, or doesn’t get built that you want.

If it helps, here’s a summary of what the Town Council thinks:

  • The consultation period is too hurried and doesn’t give time for people to understand and comment on the document.
  • The draft document seems like a rushed mix of old policies from the current Local Plan, and other ideas that have been thrown in without enough thought.
  • Dorset Council doesn’t have adequate overall strategies in place for transport, parking, culture or the economy, from which the development needs of our area should flow.
  • The plan doesn’t pay enough attention to the climate and ecological crisis recognised by the Government, Dorset Council and Bridport Town Council. Addressing this issue should underpin every policy in the plan.  And finally
  • Some specific issues for Bridport and West Bay:
    • We support the idea of making Bridport a sustainable place, but the plan isn’t ambitious enough to achieve this.  The concept of ‘eco towns’ could be used to guide the approach.
    • The plan should better reflect and align with the Bridport Area Neighbourhood Plan, particularly when looking at town centre development, car parking, affordable housing and the climate emergency.
    • We’re really worried about the addition of 170 homes at Vearse Farm, and we think a new masterplan is needed to make sure the already permitted 760 homes are delivered in a way that better meets the Bridport area’s needs.
    • Plans for the expansion of the town centre do not respect Bridport’s successful mix of independent and national retailers, a thriving street market, and an excellent cultural offer.  Nor do the plans cater for access to and from the town.
    • The plan talks about making sure larger developments are on transport corridors, but there isn’t a plan to make sure there is actual public transport running on those corridors.  The current provision is bad and getting worse.
    • The plan does nothing to solve the difficulties faced in making existing and future buildings in Bridport energy efficient.
    • Access to and from a redeveloped St Michael’s Trading Estate isn’t properly catered for, but we do like the idea of opening up the riverside area.
    • We support the provision of a care village and key worker homes, but more thought needs to be given to access by cars, pedestrians and cyclists.
    • There’s not enough strength in the plan to deliver the desperately needed affordable and social housing, particularly affordable rented homes.
    • Not enough thought has gone into how West Bay’s unique tourist offer will be protected and improved in a sustainable way.

That’s a brief look at what Bridport Town Council thinks.  Please do use it to help you with your response to the consultation, and to get the best for the Bridport area.

Alternatively, anyone and everyone is welcome to use all or part of our detailed response, which you can find here.


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