North Dorset District Council: The Inspector’s report on the examination of the North Dorset Local Plan Part 1 was received by the Council just before Christmas. As is now customary at this stage it is largely a formality confirming that subject to previously agreed modifications the Inspector is satisfied that the plan is sound. North Dorset District Council will now go ahead and adopt the plan at special meetings of the Cabinet and Full Council on today (15 January 2016).

There are a few key changes to note by bringing in this plan. Firstly there has been a significant reduction in the number of settlements with settlement boundaries – i.e. those where there in principle new development may take place. Many smaller villages lose their settlement boundaries and effectively are treated as open countryside.

North Dorset AONB planning consultants Dorset
North Dorset with its AONB shown in green (Blandford is outside)

The other noteworthy change is, of course, a new affordable housing policy. The new policy requires that development that delivers 11 or more net additional dwellings and which has a combined gross floorspace of more than 1000 sqm will contribute to the provision of affordable housing. The exception is anywhere within the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) where schemes of 6-10 units will be expected to provide a financial contribution.

The percentage of total dwellings to be affordable will be:

  • Gillingham and Sturminster Newton 25%
  • Shaftesbury and Blandford 30%
  • Elsewhere 40%

North Dorset adopted the Government’s affordable housing threshold policy when it came in in November 2014. This was subsequently quashed by a legal challenge but for the expediency of getting the plan adopted they have chosen to keep these thresholds rather than reverting to lower ones they were originally considering. A lucky break for developers of small sites in North Dorset but I am sure the Council will try and revisit the policy as soon as possible.

If you have any queries about how any of this affects your potential site or development then do please get in touch with Pure Town Planning.