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A controversial housing development on the edge of Shaftesbury by the Shaftesbury to Gillingham road was dramatically turned down today by Dorset Council’s northern area planning committee meeting for the first time.

Meeting under the new unitary arrangements at Sturminster Newton’s The Exchange under new chairman Councillor Sherry Jespersen, committee members unanimously rejected the recommendation of the council’s planning and highways officers to allow Bournemouth-based Nylo Homes to build 25 homes at Enmore Court, Shaftesbury, beside the busy B3081.
Refusal was proposed by Gillingham councillor Belinda Ridout, seconded by Shaftesbury councillor Tim Cook, and committee members had no hesitation in voting against the plan despite Councillor Jespersen telling them that rejecting council officers’ advice was ‘no light matter.’

Dorset Council planners Hannah Smith and Robert Lennis, and highways officer Ian Madgwick, had all argued that the benefits of allowing the application outweighed the impact on the environment because the council is not meeting its Whitehall housing targets and therefore the application had to go ahead.
But committee members, who include Gillingham councillor Val Pothecary, insisted the opposite was the case and rejected the application because of its impact on the character and heritage of the area and because its location and problems of accessibility made it unsuitable and unsustainable as a housing development.

Earlier, the committee had heard a sustained attack on the plan by several members of the public, including Enmore Green resident Charlotte MacKay who cited the more than 200 objections and called it ‘an absolute crisis for Shaftesbury’.

Shaftesbury Civic Society, represented by Jackie Upton King, and Shaftesbury Town Council, represented by Councillor Philip Proctor, also argued strongly against the plan.

Agent for Nylo, Matthew Holmes, had argued that the plan should be passed for having eight affordable homes and that the housing benefit outweighed any other considerations because of the council’s lack of a five-year housing land supply as ordered by Whitehall.

But Councillor Pothecary, who was appointed vice-chairman for the meeting, said that while she ‘liked’ the affordable housing part of the plan it was the only thing she could find to say in favour of it.

Nylo Homes director Gary House said afterwards: ‘We cannot confirm our intentions at the moment [but] we are taking advice from our consultants.’
It is however expected that the company will appeal against the refusal.

More on this story is in the June issue.

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