Plans for 15 flats off the A31 rejected by Dorset Council

Plans for 15 flats off the A31 between Ferndown and Ringwood have been rejected by Dorset Council.

Access to the site would have been off the slip road next to the BP filling station at St Leonards – which councillors claimed was dangerous, although the Highways Agency said it was happy with the arrangement.

Reasons given for refusal included not providing any ‘affordable’ homes and the bulk and scale of the proposed three-storey building which the eastern planning committee decided was out of keeping with other homes in the area.

Said Cllr David Tooke: “I can’t understand why, when you know the rules, you go ahead with a plan which can’t provide the level of affordable housing required…if it’s not economical to build it, don’t build it,” he said.

Normally the council would expect to see affordable homes in any development which provided nine, or more, new properties.

The Dorset Council area planning committee heard that the developer, Harbourwood Homes Ltd, had offered a £58,000 payment towards affordable housing elsewhere in lieu of having to provide any affordable units on the 184 Ringwood Road site.

The planning application included the demolition of a chalet-style bungalow and outbuildings currently on the site, directly opposite the pub.

A previous committee meeting had heard from former road safety officer Norman Drake, who lives in the area, who said the site access, off the dual carriageway, was an accident waiting to happen and warned, that if one did, it was likely to lead to life-changing injuries, or even death.

One neighbour told Wednesday’s meeting that the idea of redeveloping in the area had caught on and she had received a knock on the door from a developer with plans already drawn up for 22 flats on her property.

She said that had the development next door, at 184, been approved she might have been tempted to take the offer because the proposed flats would have changed the character of the area and led to a loss of privacy for herself and other neighbours, making living there unbearable.

Ward councillor Barry Gorringe said he estimated at least 1,500 vehicles an hour using the eastbound carriageway and found it incredible that the Highways Agency were happy about extra vehicles using the junction – but was told by Dorset Council planning officers it would be impossible to challenge their decision as they were the acknowledged experts for safety on national highways.

Cllr Gorringe said he also objected to the claim that a three storey building would not look out of the place in the area when most of the properties nearby were fairly large single storey homes.

Agent for the developer, Alan Davies, argued it was unfair for the council to have changed its recommendation without giving the chance to respond to the concerns raised.

He argued that every issue raised had been dealt with and the district valuer’s office had supported the claim that to build affordable homes on the site would make the project uneconomical.

He told committee members there was no cause to object to the development which would bring 15 new home to the area and make good use of the site.

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