'Too many' flats planned for former Dorchester print works

'Too many' flats planned for former Dorchester print works

Published by George Sharpe at 2:24pm 22nd June 2020.

An application for 14 homes on a key Dorchester town centre site has been withdrawn.

There had been criticism that too many homes were being attempted on the High East Street site – much of it a former print works stretching back to Durngate Street.

Agents for the scheme have not responded to a question about whether the project has now been scrapped, or will be changed and re-submitted to Dorset Council.

The council’s conservation officer said that the scheme, as submitted, could not be supported because of the harm it would cause to historic buildings and, to a lesser extent, others nearby, including All Saints Church.

Homes planned for Dorchester between High East Street and Durngate Street
Much of the site is a former print works that stretches back to Durngate Street

Town councillors in their comments said they were unable to support the plan, but would welcome a reduction in the number of homes and an increase in the number of two-bed properties.

The proposal included the conversion of upper floors above the Nichol World Travel office, which would continue to operate, and the demolition of the former Henry Ling print works to the rear, replacing it with flats.

Residents living nearby said that they were worried about increased traffic problems from the redeveloped site which an extra six parking spaces would bring, most accessing the complex off Durngate Street. They claimed that Durngate Street already has too many vehicles using it to get deliveries to South Street and drivers trying to cheat the system by using the lane when they should not.

Homes planned for Dorchester between High East Street and Durngate Street

There was also criticism that Durngate Street residents had not been formally notified of the development proposals because the planning application had listed only the High East Street address of the application site.

Town and unitary councillor Stella Jones welcomed small town centre homes but said she believed 12 flats was the maximum for the site. Fellow councillor Les Fry, who also sits on both councils, said he had no problems with basement flats which some councillors had described as ‘cramped’. He said they would be much better than having no home at all.

Dorset Council’s conservation officer said that although the conversion of the High East Street building would leave its exterior largely intact there was concern about the demolition proposed to the rear of the site.

“The demolition of the central and eastern structures, which together form a significant aspect of the historical development and light industrial use of the site (particularly rare within the Conservation Area, but also in town centres nationally), will result in substantial harm to the special architectural and historic interest of the building insofar as it will remove all trace of this element of the site,” said the report.

But the officer conceded that there could be scope for a re-worked development:

“From a heritage perspective there is possibly scope for sensitive and smaller scale development on part of the site.”

An application for nine flats above and to the rear of the nearby bedding shop has just been approved by Dorset Council, despite the concerns of neighbours. The shop is expected to continue trading.