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Fairfax field Gillingham
The field off Common Mead Lane as it looks in the spring.

Gillingham residents who want to comment on the Fairfax planning application to build 80 or more new homes just off Common Mead Lane, but have not yet done so, have until tomorrow to post their opinions on the Dorset Council website. The deadline for comments on the planning application website is Thursday 18 November. The planning application number is P/OUT/2021/04019.

The developers, Fairfax, have submitted another application to develop the site after their first attempt was refused by Dorset councillors in August by just one vote.

Freame Way resident Malcolm Briggs, who has been spearheading a local campaign to fight this second planning proposal said: ‘The Fairfax proposal is neither presented as an appeal, nor as a new application and therefore should be treated in exactly the same way as the previous one. There is little material change from the first application to the second, apart from the inclusion of a field that is beyond the site and scope of the plans that have been submitted. It is a well proven planning rule that a planning application can only concern itself with the plans under consideration and not adjoining properties.’

Last week, Gillingham Town councillors voted unanimously to reject this second Fairfax planning application. Town councillor Barry Von Clemens said: ‘I strongly hope that, when considering this application, the planning authority takes into account the policies of the Gillingham Neighbourhood Plan which the people of Gillingham voted for and which took six years to complete.’

Many Gillingham residents who have posted their objections online say they are deeply concerned that Fairfax’s planning application specifically contravenes Policy 17 of the Neighbourhood Plan, which designates the site as an area to be used for the ‘provision of outdoor sports’ and as an ‘accessible natural green space’.

Any suggestions made by the developer that the Neighbourhood Plan is out of date is disputed by Malcolm Briggs. ‘The Neighbourhood plan was adopted by the county council on 27th July, 2018. Not in 2010, as Fairfax states in their Addendum.’

Other key online objections to Fairfax’s planning application include:

Increased traffic congestion along Common Mead Lane to and from the proposed development.

Fairfax’s own Transport Assessment suggests there would be an extra 392 ‘trips’ over a 12-hour period generated by the development. If this figure is added to the number of trips currently made to and from the Mellowes Care Home, the total would reach 501 ‘trips’ over a 12-hour period, according to the Transport Assessment.

Traffic safety: Residents are also concerned about the potential the traffic hazards posed by the extra amount of traffic trying to turn right or left at the Common Mead Lane/Broad Robin junction into the very busy Wyke Road. There are worries too that the proposed access road leading in and out of the housing development is very close to the point where Common Mead Lane becomes a narrow, windy single track lane with poor visibility and relatively few passing places.

Wildlife, Ecology and Biodiversity: Local residents also fear the building of a housing development on this site would cause a loss of wildlife habitat, damage the local ecology and have a negative impact on biodiversity. The biodiversity documents submitted by Fairfax recorded the activities of at least six species of bat, including vulnerable Serotine bats. The site is also home to great crested newts, badgers, hedgehogs, barn owls and a variety of nesting birds.

Loss of access to recreational green spaces and open countryside for local residents. Especially for people who don’t have access to a car, who have mobility issues, or who don’t want to have to get in their cars to reach open countryside.

‘Enough is enough!’

In their online objections, local residents are also arguing that Dorset Council is well on target when it comes to meeting its new housing quotas, and the town does not need yet another housing development. Gillingham is, according to the council’s own website, ‘one of the fastest growing towns in the South West. It has been identified in the North Dorset Local Plan as one of the main towns that will deliver the most growth with at least 2,200 dwellings over the plan period up to 2032.’ There are currently two other housing developments in progress in Gillingham. Barnaby Mead, which is nearing completion and the Southern Extension, which has been earmarked for another 1,800 houses and forms part of Gillingham’s Neighbourhood Plan.

By Sarah English

Editor’s note: Sarah English is a local resident campaigning against the development.

If you would like to add your comments to the Dorset Planning Application website before the deadline tomorrow:

Go to:

https://www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk

Click on the Search for A Planning Application Box.

Click on the Planning Applications Box

Scroll right down to the bottom of the page and click on the small ‘Accept’ box on the far left hand corner of the page. Then type in the planning application number at the top of the new page: P/OUT/2021/04019.

 

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