Plans for 19 Eco-flats in Dorchester withdrawn

Plans for 19 Eco-flats in Dorchester withdrawn

Published by George Sharpe at 1:13pm 20th March 2020.

History has put a halt to plans for 19 one-bed flats for local young people on a former tennis court in Dorchester.

  • Plans for 19 flats have been withdrawn as planning offers try to protect part of a Roman wall.
  • The eco-homes would have been for local young  people.
  • Developers say it's 'time we started looking after the living' but planning officers say the building doesn't fit with the local area.

The application for the homes has been withdrawn after quibbles over how best to allow the development while at the same time protect the remains of part of a Roman wall and create a building which fits in with the conservation area.

The scheme may yet be re-worked and presented again to Dorset Council.

Dorchester Flats
Community Land Trust Directors Andy Stillman, Alistair Chisholm And Chair Tricia Mitchell

Chair of the community land trust, Tricia Mitchell, says she’s annoyed that the scheme has had to been withdrawn after three years of work because it was being recommended for refusal by Dorset Council officers.

“As one of the board members emailed me ‘isn’t it time that we started looking after the living instead of the monuments of the past’” she said, explaining that Dorset Council officers have a number of objections to the project:

“Their reasons are many, mostly to do with the Romans and the feeling that the building/design does not ‘fit’ within the conservation area surroundings.

“They don’t like the large windows, though they are not too different from the actual size of the Whetstones windows nearby, or the large windows of the houses on West Walks. They don’t like the finish, even though it was designed to resemble the chalk that is underneath it.

Dorchester Flats

“They don’t like the roof because it is flat to accommodate the solar panels that will be hidden from view.

“This is a building for the 21st century, it does not have any gas appliances in it, it has a high degree of insulation and has triple glazed windows.

“The Ecology Report states that it will provide a ‘net gain’ for biodiversity.

Dorchester Flats

“I feel that if this town does not start providing homes for young working people that they can afford, it will die a slow death with only room for retired people.

“They need to consider where the nurses and carers will live. However pleasant our surroundings, they do not pay the rent.”

Fellow Trust director Alistair Chisholm, who runs guided walking history tours of the town, says he was amazed by the reaction of council officers, the footprint of the proposed building having already been moved once to keep it away from the remains of the Roman Wall.

“They seem to be seeing things in that corner of the town I have never seen, and I doubt if anyone else has either, or thinks important compared to housing our young people – but we might be able to adjust the design so at least we can provide some flats there, rather than none,” he said.

“It’s disappointing for all of us who have worked on this for the past three years.”

The tennis court site was offered to the Trust by Dorchester Town Council as part of its policy to help find affordable accommodation for local people and keep key jobs in the town. The offer of the site came after the council decided to create new tennis courts on the opposite side of the Walks in the Borough Gardens, the previous courts having been unpopular with some because they were shaded by trees.

A Community Land Trust board meeting will decide how best to continue with the scheme.

By Trevor Bevins, Local Democracy Reporter