Please find below questions we have received relating to the South Eastern Dorset section of the Dorset Council Local Plan options consultation, along with answers given. Please use the following links to scroll to the relevant topic or settlement.

Alternative options and green belt


Where can we see the alternative options considered for development in South Eastern Dorset? Please can you show the list of brownfield sites in Dorset that were considered? 


Alternative options are presented in the Sustainability Appraisal for the Draft Local Plan.

The East Dorset and Purbeck Landscape and Heritage study also contains assessment of options for development in South East Dorset.

The Green Belt background paper explains the council’s approach to identifying and selecting sites within the Green Belt, including explanation of exceptional circumstances, and the consideration of options for meeting development needs on brownfield sites. 

The Strategic Review of the Green Belt is a key piece of evidence informing this process.

How can the Council be sure that the new Green Belt boundaries proposed in the Plan will be permanent, that they won’t just be changed again when a new target comes along from Government?


We have provided evidence and justification for the proposed changes to Green Belt boundaries in the Green Belt background paper which is published on the council’s website. As part of the justification for changes to Green Belt boundaries we have explored the opportunities to provide as many homes as possible within existing built-up areas on brownfield land and underutilised land (including car parks). Dorset is a mainly rural authority and it is not possible to provide all the homes that are needed without some new development in the countryside and Green Belt. As much of our housing need arises from South Eastern Dorset area and the conurbation, in some instances, the managed release of Green Belt may provide the most sustainable and accessible options for development.

In response to the second part of your question we will be doing some further, more detailed work, around forming clear boundaries around the land which we propose to release from the Green Belt. There will be an opportunity to consider this work in the next stage of process of preparing the Dorset Council Local Plan. We are planning to meet the needs for new homes in Dorset up to 2038, and it is unlikely that we will consider additional changes (beyond those outlined in the draft plan) to Green Belt boundaries over this period. Unfortunately it is not possible to give an assurance that the council will not need to consider Green Belt boundaries again in future plans.

Highways impacts


The developments planned north of the A31 can only increase traffic across the A31 from North to South and back, with many people working in the BCP area. The interaction must impede the four major roundabout intersections crossing the A31 in the area. What major road improvements can be expected before these developments north of the A31 occur? 


Dorset Council are continuing to liaise with Highways England colleagues on the development of the Dorset Council Local Plan and have ongoing discussions on any potential impacts of development on the A31. There has been detailed traffic modelling undertaken for the Bournemouth, Christchurch, Poole conurbation and this has also included the area that you refer to around Wimborne and Sturminster Marshall. The findings from this transport evidence gathering are being discussed with Highways England and where specific issues are identified, these will be investigated further. If this involves mitigation measures such as junction improvements and/or safety improvements, the options will be thoroughly considered. If such highways improvements are identified as an essential requirement of a development, the developer will be required to contribute to the cost of the scheme. Any new development will also include the provision of transport infrastructure such as walking and cycling links to encourage residents to be less reliant on car travel for shorter journeys, thus helping to reduce congestion in the local area.

Duty to Cooperate


To what extent have discussions taken place with Bournemouth, Christchurch, and Poole (BCP) Council about meeting Dorset Council’s housing need in the BCP area? The Covid-19 epidemic has changed the usage of urban land, perhaps permanently.  Have you discussed whether development over the next 17 years might take place on urban land released by the demise of retail and office accommodation in the BCP domain instead of Green Belt in Dorset?


As part of the Duty to Cooperate, Dorset Council is legally obliged to work with neighbouring councils to address cross boundary issues. This includes issues related to traffic flows, habitat sites and the needs for development. If the housing or employment need of one council area cannot be met within that council area that council will need to formally request that a neighbouring council considers meeting any unmet need.

Dorset Council considers there to be exceptional circumstances for the release of Green Belt land to meet the housing needs of the South Eastern Dorset area. Through the joint Dorset Council, and Bournemouth, Christchurch, and Poole Strategic Green Belt Review we have explored opportunities to meet development needs in South Eastern Dorset on brownfield land in built up areas, on underutilised land, in town centre locations, and in other locations that are well served by public transport. Due to the rural nature of Dorset these opportunities are limited, and we are talking with neighbouring authorities (including Bournemouth, Christchurch, and Poole Council) to ascertain whether they are able to meet any of Dorset Council’s development needs. On this note, such discussions may also relate to whether Dorset will be asked to meet some of Bournemouth, Christchurch, and Poole’s housing need. Both sets of discussions have not yet concluded. Both Councils will be seeking to prepare a Duty to Cooperate Statement for the examination of their Local Plans.

Work is being prepared to assess and understand further the potential impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on employment sites and town centres in the Dorset Council area. It is too early to know the extent and implications of such impacts, but this further work will help inform the next stages of the Local Plan process.

Corfe Mullen


What is the existing open space allocation per resident in Corfe Mullen compared with those alternative locations?  (Open space I'm defining as land which is potentially recreational space for such a large and densely populated area yet demonstrating such under provision for open space. 


The Draft Local Plan contains policies relating to green infrastructure (Policy ENV8), open space and recreation space (Policy COM4) in which standards for the amount of accessible recreation space are set out. You will find these policies within the Environment and Community Infrastructure topic sections of the Draft Plan. For example the supporting text of Policy COM4 outlines a standard of 1.2 playing pitches per 1000 population.

Evidence that assesses existing levels of recreation space is available in the form of the Playing Pitch Strategies.

The draft policies for Corfe Mullen also set out provision for Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace to provide informal recreation space as well as reducing the recreational pressure of new development on nearby Dorset heathlands.


You stated in the webinar that you aim to improve the 'environmental quality' of the Green Belt but how is building on the Green Belt fields of Corfe Mullen going to improve the quality for the species such as deer and buzzards that live there, as their habitat will be lost?


Deer and buzzards rely on a mosaic of habitats to provide food and shelter, so will benefit from improvements to the ecological network around Corfe Mullen and more widely.  The ecological network maps for Dorset show the existing network and the higher potential network.  The higher potential network will be used by developers to identify areas of land where biodiversity net gain and compensation measures would best be located.  These measures could include establishment and management of new woodlands, scrub and grassland, all of which would benefit deer and buzzards, as well as many other species. 



The plan for Verwood doesn't look a lot different to the one we had 30 years ago, more houses and a plan for an Upper school in 10 years’ time. There should be no further building of houses in Verwood until the foundations of a new Upper school in Verwood begin. Why should children living in a town of almost 15,000 have to travel 10 miles by bus, every day to go to school?


 At this stage in the process we are seeking views from local communities across Dorset, and from infrastructure providers, on the infrastructure that will be needed to support the new homes and employment uses identified in the local plan. We will take all responses relating to this matter into account and consider whether and how we might need to respond. This is might involve further work with those infrastructure providers.  As you have noted previous local plans for East Dorset have included planning policies relating to a new upper school at Verwood. The draft Dorset Council Local Plan proposes to allocate an additional 100 homes at Verwood (VER3) and includes a policy (VER4) relating to the use of council owned land for a new upper school. The site for an upper school in Verwood is secured, and the council could deliver a new school if levels of growth in the wider area demonstrate that it is needed. For these reasons we cannot give a promise that a new upper school will be delivered in Verwood before building work begins on any further homes in the town.

Lytchett Matravers


In relation to the projected housing development in Lytchett Matravers, what are the calculations for required school places in the following settings?

  1. Pre-school

  2. Primary school

  3. Secondary school


The need for school places is regularly reviewed taking account of individual family’s preferences, historic demand, the census of the number of children entered on a school roll and trend based estimates of populations within school catchments. We also take account of larger scale projected housing growth within a school catchment area. As the need for school places is calculated after taking account of a number of different factors I am not able to provide a definitive number of additional homes which would act as a trigger to provide a new school. Each assessment is determined on an individual catchment basis.

Lytchett Matravers falls within the Lytchett Minster School Catchment Area. Within this catchment there are existing policy allocations for homes at Lytchett Matravers and Upton. A neighbourhood plan in Bere Regis has also allocates sites for new homes. The consultation draft Dorset Council Local Plan proposes allocations which could deliver a further 200 homes around Lytchett Matravers.

There is some capacity within existing schools to provide the school places needed in this area. The council's education team will advise whether further school places are needed in response to planned development and how best these are provided. The council will expect financial contributions from proposed development to help fund the expansion of existing schools or a new school in this area.

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