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Campaigners opposing housing plans claim a public relations push by developers

Campaigners opposing plans for more than 3,500 homes north of Dorchester are claiming there’s been a public relations push by the developers.

They say hundreds of local people have been cold-called and asked to say they support the housing proposals.

“Some of the calls have been making people feel as if they are in the wrong if they won’t say they support the development,” claimed town councillor Alistair Chisholm.

“Of course what they are after is to present the claim that local people do support the development, when they come to make their planning application.”

Mr Chisholm, one of the leading members of the opposition group, STAND, (Save The Area North of Dorchester) says his members have now re-doubled their efforts to ensure that Dorset Council know that many local people are against the housing proposals being put forward by a consortium of developers.

However a spokesman for the North Dorchester Consortium says they are just consulting with the public, which is the right thing to do.

In a statement they said:

“The land at North Dorchester is being put forward by the North Dorchester Consortium which comprises Grainger Plc and Persimmon Homes. As responsible developers, the Consortium partners are committed to engaging with the local community on the development proposals, which could provide Dorchester with much needed new housing and job opportunities, alongside a new northern link road and significant new space for recreation and nature. Consortium member Grainger Plc commissioned an independent specialist research firm to establish general attitudes to new housing and what services and features people would find most important. All survey participants were selected at random having previously consented to be contacted by researchers. Participants were never asked if they support North Dorchester and were free to register their opposition or not participate. The Consortium will be responding to Dorset Council’s proposed Local Plan consultation in early 2021. We would encourage all interested parties, whether they support or object to the proposal, to participate in this exercise.”

There have been several protests over the last two years, including mass walks around the site and a protest outside the Dorset Council offices in South Walks to highlight what STAND says is a risk to the future character of the county town and the beauty of open farmland and water meadows.

Much of the site is alongside an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and various sites which has special status listings.

As part of the first phase of the process a public consultation on the revised Local Plan, which includes the site, is due to start on January 11th.

Mr Chisholm says he hopes those opposing the Dorchester North proposals will write in and oppose the idea.

“We are keen to draw the public’s attention to the many follies of development on this site and are looking to promote our case by every means.We are asking for donations to help fund the production and distribution of leaflets, the placing of adverts in local newspapers/magazines and the  running of a Facebook campaign. We are up against the almost infinite resources available to the developers, including Persimmon, who have already begun a telephone-based promotion of this greenfield site,” said Mr Chisholm in an email send out to supporters.

 

Article originally appeared on Planet Radio.

The Institute cannot confirm the accuracy of this story or confirm that it presents a balanced view. If you feel this is inaccurate we would welcome your perspective and evidence that this is the case

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