At the Shaftesbury Civic Society’s recent open meeting to discuss the revision of the Local Plan, the consensus was clear, the A30 employment land is vitally important.
Shaftesbury does not want more homes, it needs employment and improvements to its infrastructure. The land south of the A30, designated in the North Dorset Local Plan, must be kept for employment uses.
Recent statements in the local press are misleading. Persimmon have not, to the Civic Society’s knowledge “conducted extensive community engagement work with residents in and around Shaftesbury and the neighbouring parish of Melbury Abbas and Cann”. For example, no leaflets were delivered to residents in Melbury and Cann. Their rather cursory consultation held at the Royal Chase Hotel recently, gave attendees two choices, do you support all housing or a mixed development? There was no option to disagree with both of these proposals, therefore many supported a mixed development as the lesser of two evils. The number of abstentions was not counted.
The A30 employment land has been acquired by Persimmon with the clear intention of using it for housing. North Dorset has reviewed the option to keep this land for employment use and in the Local Plan, adopted last year, it was retained as such and we believe that the review currently being undertaken will maintain this position.
- If a hotel developer is interested in a site, they could acquire the land to build one there if Persimmon would allow the sale of individual plots. However, Persimmon are blocking progress on development by insisting that the entire site is bought as one lot.
- There is no current option to build a new primary school as the County Council have evidence that one is not immediately required. They will not fund one without clear evidence.
- The land under discussion is 75% located within Melbury Abbas and Cann and outside the Shaftesbury settlement boundary and Persimmon has yet to consult with residents and their Parish Council. The North Dorset Local Plan clearly rules out housing development on this site.
Chairman of the Shaftesbury Civic Society, Mike Madgwick states “Residents of Shaftesbury and our neighbouring parish of Melbury Abbas and Cann will energetically oppose any move to have this land re-designated for housing and for further urban sprawl to change the very special nature of this historic town”.