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park homes site
The site north of Colesbrook where developers wanted to erect the park homes.

Planning officials at Dorset Council have turned down an application to build up to 43 park homes for people aged 55 and over at a green field site just north of Gillingham.

Serenity Parks had been hoping to site the single-storey homes off the B 3092 near the turn-off to Colesbrook in what is currently agricultural land next to the footpath to Milton-on-Stour primary school.

However, on March 23 it was announced that Dorset planning officers have rejected the planning application, saying the development would ‘significantly intrude’ into a rural area surrounded by ‘heritage assets’ and would harm the settings of both the Colesbrook Conservation Area and the Milton-on-Stour Conservation Area.

The officials also said that the proposed development was outside the town’s settlement boundary and would ‘contribute to an unsustainable pattern of development’.

They continued: ‘For the specific older demographic that would occupy the development the location of the site is poorly related to the majority of services and facilities in Gillingham in terms of walking and cycling and, otherwise, too far removed from sustainable transport alternatives.

‘For those with access to them, there would be reliance on the use of private motor vehicles, leading to harmful exhaust emissions. For those without access to a car, the location of the site is such that it may effectively isolate some occupants of the development.’

The planning officers also had concerns over drainage at the site and said the park home estate would represent a ‘visually harmful encroachment’ between the ‘well-established and historic boundaries of rural settlements Colesbrook and Milton-on-Stour’.

At the time of the application in 2022 the developers said they would make efforts to protect the landscape.

They said: ‘Generous open green spaces incorporating sustainable urban drainage and native wildflower planting, as well as new trees, would be included.

‘Views from Colesbrook would be protected by the generous buffer zone. A new safe access would be created to the south of the development, linking it with the existing built up area of Gillingham.’

The company added: ‘Up to 43 accessible, inherently affordable bungalow park homes would be developed, creating a new community for older people in Gillingham.’

It is not yet known if Serenity Parks has decided to appeal against the refusal of their application.

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