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house building planningUpdated figures on housebuilding in North Dorset mean that towns such as Gillingham will have more chance in the near future to block unwanted and speculative developments.

The news was revealed by a Dorset Council official at a recent meeting of the council’s Northern Area planning committee.

Hannah Smith, the development management area manager, said that figures for the new ‘housing land supply and housing delivery test’ for the North Dorset area had just been published and they showed that ‘housing delivery was back on track’.

In other words, enough new homes have been started or built to increase the housing supply.

This means in practice that the previous planning regime – under which because of a shortage of supply the balance had to be tilted in favour of allowing housing schemes even if they went against the existing local development plan – will no longer apply.

Instead, more weight will again be given to the wishes of local communities, as expressed in the local plan.

In this case, that means the current North Dorset plan.

Welcoming the news at a meeting of Gillingham Town Council’s planning committee on Monday evening, committee chair Councillor Val Pothecary said: ‘This is a huge positive for us in this part of Dorset.

‘We now stand some chance of standing against any development that we really don’t want and likewise we can support development that we do want.’

In recent years the lack of housing land supply has led to concern that the Gillingham area was being subjected to a number of ‘speculative’ planning applications.

The new figures should mean that local councils will have greater success in opposing such schemes.

However, Hannah Smith also pointed out that ‘there is still a requirement to meet our ongoing housing need’.

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