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Councillors on North Dorset District Council have voted unanimously to designate a part of Gillingham made famous by Constable as an an official conservation area.

Colesbrook’s Parham’s Mill, now usually known as Purns Mill, was painted by John Constable in the 1820s.

Earlier this year Gillingham Town Council’s Conservation Area Working Party produced a report on the area with a view to making it a conservation area and held a public consultation.

The report said: ‘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.’

Now councillors in North Dorset have voted for the area to be given that status ‘to preserve
or enhance’ its ‘special architectural and historic interest’.

In a report, NDDC councillors heard the move was backed by conservation body Historic England.

But it had been opposed by the current owners of Purns Mill as it was ‘considered a ‘hindrance to much needed regeneration following on from the mill becoming the centre of the village once again in the form of residential or commercial development,’ councillors heard.

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.

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