Update July 2020

Action for Alderholt Chairman Chris Walker has been in regular contact with Dorset planners and below is the latest position: –

  • Dorset Council intend to publish proposals for consultation in September
  • This may or may not include major development in Alderholt
  • A joint review of “green belt” sites is being carried out with Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole and is likely to influence things but not likely to be made public before September 
  • The Parish Council is working on a Neighbourhood Plan and if you are interested in getting involved please contact Councillor David Tooke. 

Update- October 2019

A4A members have helped the Parish Council with the distribution of the Village Survey forms and would urge everyone to complete these and return them by 25th October. This will help in producing a “Neighbourhood Plan” which can truly reflect the views of our residents.

Since the formation of the new Dorset Unitary Authority earlier this year the original East Dorset plan for up to 2,400 house in Alderholt (with no promise of ANY infrastructure improvements) is “on hold” but not necessarily cancelled. So we are actively seeking further meetings with planning officers in the hope of convincing them that there are better areas in Dorset to put their housing allocations. Bearing that in mind we have received this from Councillor David Walsh: –

“When the Council agreed to write a single plan for the new Dorset area it was agreed that all work on previous plans would stop and obviously that includes the East Dorset Plan. Through the plan process we will be reviewing all evidence gathered and consultation responses already received. I understand your views on development at Alderholt and went on a guided tour of the area with Councillor Tooke who pointed out, in detail, the issues and constraints to development. I am personally leading as Chairman of the Executive Advisory Panel on the new Local Plan and I have been contacted by many people in the Alderholt area and am aware of their views. It was because I knew of strong feelings towards development in your area that I visited it first with your Council representative”

It is worth bearing in mind that Dorset Council and our own Parish Council have agreed to a Climate Change Emergency Plan which will entail severely reducing carbon emissions. The remoteness of Alderholt from employment and public services combined with poor access roads and virtually non existent public transport must be considered to be in our favour! In view of the foregoing it has been decided to postpone a public meeting until we have more news to impart. 

We would like to invite interested parties to join Action4Alderholt by signing up online at www.action4alderholt.co.uk OR by sending an email to action4alderholt@gmail.com OR join via our Facebook page. Meanwhile we are looking for enthusiastic people who understand and can help with updating our website and social media platforms. If you can help, please contact Chris Walker on 01425 655631 OR 07966 451124

Membership is FREE and open to all local residents who support our aims, including those from surrounding villages. The more members we have, the more weight is behind our common cause.

PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CUREACT NOW – JOIN US TODAY!

Update- May 2019

New Dorset, New Plan The new Dorset Council was elected on 2nd May and the Cabinet member for planning is David Walsh . It will help if people email  cllrdavid.walsh@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk to record their objections to 1000-2500 extra houses in our village. Please include the key planning argument that Alderholt is too remote from employment and services to be a sustainable location for large scale development and copy action4alderholt@gmail.com in if you can. It should help that Dorset Council resolved to declare a “climate emergency” at their first meeting; we’re told they will produce a new local plan rather than just continuing with East Dorset’s proposals.

There is a Conservative majority within the Council but a large opposition (Liberal Democrat, Green, Labour and Independents) should mean more challenge to flawed policies. Alderholt and Cranborne Ward has elected Dave Tooke as our Councillor; Dave is a founder  member of A4A and a Liberal Democrat.

How many houses? There has been confusion about numbers. East Dorset’s plan talks about “in excess of 1000 dwellings” being built in the village. When we looked at all the green field sites put forward it was clear there is space for up to 2400 houses; after our “freedom of information” request the planners admitted this is true. Since the plan was published more sites have been put forward, so there could even be more than 2500.

New Parish Council Alderholt PC has also changed with 6 out of 9 members now being strong A4A supporters. We will be meeting our planning consultant and Dorset Council’s planning officers on 6th June. We are all determined that the PC will oppose inappropriate development with more urgency and resolve.

Alternative local plans The “alternative plan” produced by A4A members demonstrates that East Dorset could meet its housing targets better by using sustainable locations instead of Alderholt. We’re told Dorset Council will also be looking at options for a “Garden Town” close to rail links where new residents could access work and services by public transport, walking or cycling, but that is a longer term option which would need government funding.

Help needed with assembling evidence Do you have skills in librarianship or research (or are willing to learn)? We have a mounting body of evidence to support our case and need someone to keep all the information in order and help organise further research. Please let us know if you’re interested.

Join Us!

We invite you to support us in our opposition to excessive housing development in Alderholt.

We welcome your help in opposing the excessive planned development in the village. Can you help us with leafletting or displaying a poster, by writing to your MP and Councillors, or in any other way?

Email us at Action4Alderholt@gmail.com or use our contact form on the Who to Contact page. Here you can also find a list of Councillors, MP and other relevant contacts.

NOTES OF MEETING BETWEEN REPRESENTATIVES OF ACTION FOR ALDERHOLT AND EAST DORSET PLANNING OFFICERS
14th NOVEMBER 2018

Present – EDDC: Dave Barnes, Jane Lynch, Simon Trueick; A4A: Chris Walker, Janet Walker, Hywel Morris, Colin English, Stephen Godsall.

Aims and objectives of A4A SG and CW explained that Alderholt Parish Council has resolved to make representations objecting to the Local Plan option for the village. Action for Alderholt has been formed to support the Parish Council is this process. It aims to provide a single voice for the
people of Alderholt and has collected a petition of over 1000 signatures.
The group is in favour of development which is sustainable given the local infrastructure – it is not a “NIMBY” group. However the group believes that 1000 homes is excessive growth, a view shared by local MP Simon Hoare. There is also a strong scepticism about claims by local politicians that a larger scale development could lead to extra schools, doctor’s surgery, road
improvements and buses.

A4A would like to work with EDDC to see if the proposals can be clarified and improved between now and the end of March.

Timetable for Local Plan review and Dorset Unitary Council DB confirmed that EDDC would not be able to complete preparation of a draft local plan. The process is delayed because Dorset CC will not complete their “multi-modal transport study” until next Autumn and the resulting strategy until end of 2019, and no local plan can be completed until after this.

Discussions between Council members leading up to forming the new Dorset UA in April 2019 have agreed that the local plan review process should continue. However, some factions would prefer to see a Dorset wide review. The concern in East Dorset is that this could lead to a “policy
vacuum” increasing from 2019 to 2024, when a new Dorset wide plan is required.

JL explained that policies and options included in the consultation document will be a materialconsideration in any forthcoming planning applications, helping to mitigate against “Gladman” type appeals. SG commented that this is no comfort to people in Alderholt because piecemeal
development could arise in many locations around the village as a result of the document.

Update on local plan options consultation ST explained that 750 responses had been lodged, which included over 3500 different points. It was proving a challenge with limited staff to input this data to the online portal. ST said this would be completed shortly but apologised for the resulting delay in providing a full response to A4A’s FOI request.

ST updated on discussions with service providers, which were continuing. It is now clear that any likely expansion of Alderholt would not lead to new doctor’s surgery or upper school in the village. It is still uncertain when a new upper school could be achieved for Verwood. However it was likely that an expansion of 1500+ homes in Alderholt would enable a new first school to be funded; government had just increased developer contributions for education from £5880 to £9000 per dwelling to include provision for nursery education and special educational needs. Such expansion could also assist with services such as shops and recreation facilities.

JW asked about bus services and explained problems of funding current service, which runs just three times per week. ST said discussions with bus operators had confirmed that there is no prospect of new regular commercial services for an expanded Alderholt within the current
funding context, but that community or demand responsive services would be possible. Indeed there is concern that proposed government changes to fuel duty could make some existing services unviable. SG explained that this is a key part of A4A’s concerns about transport and sustainability and asked officers to confirm that there was no realistic prospect of a public transport solution to Alderholt’s expanding needs, particularly for commuting. This was acknowledged and ST commented that it would not be acceptable for new development in Alderholt to be just a very large dormitory settlement.
HM asked whether the revised ONS projections for housing need were likely to change the level of housing proposed in the local plan. DB explained that government was still reviewing the data but the most likely outcome is confirmation of existing targets.

Questions about the Alderholt proposal

CW asked whether officers still believed that sites in Alderholt could accommodate up to 2500 houses. JL and ST responded that it was premature to talk about likely numbers before transport assessment had been done; this may well show that there was a limit on the amount of expansion that could be considered for the village. However officers feel that more than 1000 homes could be beneficial to get road improvements and facilities.

JW asked where SANG could be provided for this scale of development. ST said that this had not yet been considered. DB emphasised that the process so far had been an initial consultation and none of the “options” should be considered as proposals yet. A great deal more work was required before they could be narrowed down and it may transpire that some of the options
were not practical.

CW asked why no proposals for local employment had been included in Alderholt. ST responded that it may be possible to include employment on some sites although he doubts any large scale employment in the village would be viable.

CE asked if an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) would be done for the Alderholt proposals given their scale. JL explained that EIA would not be required for sites allocated within the local plan because environmental issues would be examined as part of the plan preparation process.

SG questioned whether the current “Sustainability Assessment”(SA) was suitable for this purpose as it took a very broad brush approach; for instance, any development “close to bus stops” was considered acceptable in transport terms. ST acknowledged that the SA so far was quite broad and high level and much more detailed work was required before any options were included in a “preferred options” consultation.

HM asked what mix of affordable and social housing would be proposed for Alderholt and how this could be controlled. JL stated that the aspiration for 50% affordable housing was policy on green field sites like those in the village. Usually the mix would required would be 70% homes for rental and 30% other forms of “affordable” housing, Developers often argued that this level would prevent viability and levels of affordable housing often “take the hit” for road costs.

ST added that significant “Section 106” contributions were likely to be required for transport in Alderholt. Due to the nature of the village he felt that the proportion of shared ownership, “starter homes” and “low entry market housing” would be significantly higher.

CW asked what type of transport improvements might be considered around Alderholt and whether these would be delivered before development generated extra traffic. Officers agreed that the proposed development would inevitably generate extra traffic and improvements would be needed, but this would depend upon the pace of development and could only be funded gradually as developer contributions come in. As an example, ST thought that the scale of development proposed would require pinch points such as Pressey’s Corner to be improved.

SG commented that because commuting patterns around Alderholt went to all points of the compass it would be impractical to address the many pinch points.

JW commented that many of the roads which need improvement are outside Dorset and JL confirmed that developer contributions could be used to fund necessary improvements in Hampshire or Wiltshire although no  discussions had so far been held with these transport authorities. She explained that the NPPF includes a presumption in favour of development and proposals would only be refused on transport grounds if impacts were judged to be “severe”.

SG mentioned that the presumption was only in favour of “sustainable” developement; JL agreed but said “sustainability” is very hard to pin down and recent case-law has further confused the definition.

HM asked to what extent Councils could control the pace and phasing of development. JL responded that the plan could include robust requirements for phasing where this is justified. She would not expect large scale developments in Alderholt and it is more likely that the sites would be developed in small parcels over the life of the plan. The pace of development was up to the private sector and could not be controlled. However she believes this would still be better for the village than unplanned developments such as the Gladman scheme.

HM queried why greenfield sites around Alderholt had been described as “low quality” agricultural land” when they are primarily Grade 3, classified as “fair to good”. ST acknowledgedthat the majority of land in East Dorset is grade 3 or 4, and it is incorrect to describe most of the
village sites as low quality.

Consideration of other sites for development: –
CE asked how sites to be included in the options consultation had been chosen. JL explained that the “Call for sites” had invited landowners and developers to submit proposals throughout the EDDC area. This has not been restricted by the “areas of search” mentioned in the consultation
document. Some sites put forward were clearly unsuitable because they were in flood plains, close to heathland or in sensitive parts of the green belt.

SG asked why no sites around Wimborne or Colehill had been included as options for consultation. JL explained that there were already extensive developments in this area awaiting construction and concerns about cumulative impact. DB added that many sites in this area were
completely unsuitable. However, more green belt sites may need to be considered if sites elsewhere are found to be impractical.

CE asked whether “constraints mapping” for the district was available. DB said this is fully available online and he will arrange for a link to be sent.
Process from here on Officers are pressing DCC to make an initial assessment of transport capacity around Alderholt so that they can commission “masterplanning” consultants by end of March. They accept that Alderholt proposal is the most challenging in the plan consultation and expect to spend a large proportion of the £100k masterplanning budget on it.

The further work proposed would respond primarily to concerns about transport. Arguments about strain on things like schools and health services are made wherever planners propose development. Apparently ST has attended a meeting of 350 residents in Verwood recently who are objecting to a site in the green belt and arguing that Alderholt would be a better location.

SG asked whether officers agree that the provisions of NPPF paragraph 72 apply to the Alderholt expansion. Officers agreed this is the case. ST commented that the provision in this paragraph for planners to work “with the support of their communities” was an aspiration rather than a
requirement; it is almost unknown for any community to support large scale greenfield development. However, DB confirmed that officers would wish to work as closely as possible with local people during the next stage of “masterplanning”.

Next steps
1. It was agreed that a further meeting of A4A and EDDC officers will be arranged as soon as there is news about transport assessments and/or masterplanning
2. DB will arrange for links to “constraints mapping” to be sent to A4A
3. All agreed that there are a lot of issues arising from the meeting and will
consider what further clarification is required.

The Story So Far

East Dorset District Council (EDDC) are updating the Local Plan to meet government targets which require sites for 2513 more homes.

They propose putting up to 1400 of these homes on green fields around Alderholt, more than doubling the size of the village.

EDDC held a consultation on this from 16th July to 3rd September; many local people objected – many others didn’t hear about the plan until too late.

The Parish Council held an open meeting on 3rd September, attended by over 250 people. People were almost unanimously against the plan and the Parish Council resolved to oppose it, and engage planning experts to help fight our case.

Action4Alderholt is an open group formed to support the Parish Council’s opposition. You can join and get regular updates by emailing action4alderholt@gmail.com

On 20th September Parish Council members and around 50 protesters met our local MP, Simon Hoare. He expressed support for our concerns and agreed to take these up with EDDC

WHAT WE’RE ASKING FOR

We believe that EDDC’s proposal fails to follow their own policies and the National Planning Policy Framework so we are insisting they reconsider. In particular:

• Local and national policies say that development should be located close to services and good transport links to avoid unnecessary car journeys and increases in carbon emissions.

• The roads around Alderholt are dangerous and in poor repair, bus services are infrequent and at threat of being cut.
• Alderholt is remote from employment, health services and upper schools.
• The character of the village would be changed beyond recognition.
• There are no plans for local jobs.
• Keep the Village Envelope unchanged

Given the state of local government finance,
there is no realistic prospect of improved local roads, transport or employment.

We believe The District Council must put the bulk of development in more accessible locations.