Changes planned for Dorchester's ‘hidden’ Roman Town House

Changes planned for Dorchester's ‘hidden’ Roman Town House

Published by Maria Greenwood at 10:46am 11th July 2019.

The villa, one of a kind in the country, is to the rear of County Hall.

The details for the revamp include a new entrance, seating, lighting, disabled parking, new timber steps and paths and other landscaping works.

Visitors said in a survey that they had trouble finding it – and when they did had difficulty in accessing the site. Local people say they would like to see the historic site put to better use for outdoor events.

A detailed planning consent, just submitted, includes re-opening a former entrance along the town’s historic West Walks, once the Roman defences of Dorchester.

Much of the work is expected to be funded by a Heritage Lottery grant.

There will also be better signing – another of the criticisms made by visitors.

Roman Town House

A report for the planning permission notes:

“Due to its location behind County Hall and the rather convoluted and poorly sign-posted route to discover it, it often sent visitors through the County Hall car park, which many people feel significantly impacts on the enjoyment of the site.”

Papers submitted with the planning application say the overall aim of the changes is to;

"Enhance the overall setting of the Roman Town House, to improve access and circulation, to make the maintenance of the site more sustainable, to improve interpretation of the site and enhance its context in the historic town of Dorchester."

'Space for events'

One of the changes will be the creation of a landscaped space which is adaptable for mixed uses such as educational events, performance and exhibitions, or for art of installations.

Part of the proposed works also includes the demolition of existing storage buildings which mask the main entrance to the site, and creating a new disabled-friendly access ramp, extra seating and a better interpretation area overlooking the site.

roman town house
Section of West Walks wall to be re-opened to create new entrance

The existing pathways around the Town House will be refurbished and a small section of the pathway will be extended in the south west corner of the Town House west range.

Some trees on the site will also be cleared which will open the views into the site and help reinstate the original context of the Town House inside the corner of the Roman town’s walls. 

Disabled car parking spaces and drop off points will be available immediately west of the Town House in remarked spaces.

By Trevor Bevins, Local Democracy Reporter