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High Street not 'priority' for Dorset Council Plan

High Street not 'priority' for Dorset Council Plan

Published by George Sharpe at 12:01am 25th January 2020.

Supporting the High Street and helping fill empty shops will not be included in the Dorset Council Plan – unless the authority has a change of heart.

Recommendations before the controlling Cabinet next week suggest the council will not be helping under the provisions of the soon to be completed plan because, compared with other issues, the High Street is not judged to be important enough.

A report to Tuesday’s Cabinet (28th) says:

“Within the context of the many competing demands on the council’s limited resources, this is not considered to be a sufficiently high priority to be included in the plan.”

Marks and Spencer Shop window
Marks and Spencer announced this week the Dorchester branch will be closing on the 22nd of February 2020.

Elsewhere in the draft document, under a section on economic growth, the council says it will do its best to promote Dorset as a place to do business and attract inward investment.

It also says it will:

“Support the growth of new and existing businesses, and in turn support job creation.”

Other strategic plans, also being prepared by the council, may seek to tackle the well-documented demise of the county’s High Streets  – these include the Local Industrial and Economic Growth Strategy, which is currently out for consultation and is expected to be approved in 2020, and the new Local Plan which should be completed by 2024.

A Dorset Council Spokesperson  said:

"Dorset Council recognises the importance of the high street and the challenges it has faced in recent years. The Dorset Council Plan does not reference all the activities of the council, but sets out the key strategic priorities for the next few years.

"Lots of our broader activity, particularly in planning and economic development, will have a positive impact on Dorset’s town centres and we’re proud to continue supporting local businesses across the county.”

By Trevor Bevins, Local Democracy Reporter