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The ford at Colesbrook

It is a village of charm whose quiet appeal was immortalised by the painter John Constable. Now there are plans to make Colesbrook on the northern edge of Gillingham an official conservation area.

In mid-February Gillingham Town Council hosted two drop-in events to give local residents a chance to examine the plans and to discuss the implications of the move with officers from North Dorset District Council, the authority that grants conservation area status. The events were based on a detailed report drawn up by the Town Council’s Conservation Area Working Party about Colesbrook. The report refers to the ‘village feel’ of Colesbrook and highlights some of the important features of the area, including Colesbrook Ford and its Victorian bridge, the former pub the Fir Tree, Northmoor House and Purns Mill. This old mill, then known, as Parham’s Mill, was pained by John Constable in the 1820s.

The report’s authors conclude: ‘Colesbrook is a rural hamlet within a sweep of countryside and to remain as a separate and distinct hamlet will conserve its tranquil rural character, especially that of Colesbrook Lane and the ancient ford.
‘It is clearly apparent that this fragile environment of real quality would significantly benefit from being further protected by Conservation Area status.’

Councillor Su Hunt, who thanked council staff for their work on the project, told the planning committee meeting at which the report was officially considered that the drop-in events had gone well and had been ‘very enjoyable’. She added: ‘Even though numbers were small, when you take into account how many dwellings there are in Colesbrook in retrospect we had very good turnout.’

Gillingham councillor David Walsh, who is North Dorset District Council Portfolio Holder for Planning, said: ‘It is important that residents of North Dorset can enjoy the unique characteristics that our district offers. We therefore would like to invite residents, especially those in the Gillingham and surrounding areas, to have their say on the draft report for the Colesbrook Conservation Area.’

North Dorset currently has 47 conservation areas. They are defined as ‘an area of special architectural or historic interest, the character and appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance’ and restrict rather than prevent development. Typically homes in conservation areas appreciate more in value than other areas.

For more information visit www.gillinghamdorset-tc.gov.uk/colesbrook-consultation

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