Blandford St Mary under threat from speculative development

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A revised housing plan faces backlash as locals challenge Hallam Land Management’s 135-home proposal, says North Dorset CPRE

Illustrative Masterplan of the proposed development of 135 homes in Blandford St Mary

Hallam Land Management – a land promoter* not builder – has applied for planning permission for 135 homes in Blandford St Mary, just south of Blandford. It is a revised version of an earlier
application to build 150 homes which had attracted considerable criticism from Dorset Council’s planning team, Blandford Town Council, Blandford St Mary Parish Council (BSMPC) and other consultees. Hallam Land Management is hoping this revised one will gain more traction, but it has already met opposition from BSMPC, Blandford Town Council and North Dorset CPRE.
The proposed scheme offers little or no benefit to Blandford St Mary. Instead it swamps the hamlet of Lower Blandford St Mary and its listed church and houses. The ancient Ward’s Drove, an important east-west livestock route, would be compromised.

View from Ward’s Drove across the development site

No need for more
North Dorset is in the fortunate position that its five-year housing land supply has been exceeded, so planning decisions should follow the development plans. Previously, the balance was tilted in favour of sustainable development.
The housing target for Blandford Forum and St Mary in the North Dorset Local Plan is ‘at least 1,200 homes’, and the September 2023 Housing Land Supply report showed that 1,225 homes will be delivered by 2031.
There is no need for more housing, particularly since the recent approval of a further 490 homes in north Blandford and Pimperne, and certainly not for this speculative development on a site that is not allocated in either the North Dorset Local Plan or the Blandford+ Neighbourhood Plan.
The proposed site itself is unsustainable, with most shops and services well over a mile away. Residents will therefore be dependent on their cars, which weighs heavily against the scheme at a time of climate emergency. It will also result in ribbon development, threatening the green corridor separating Blandford St Mary from Charlton Marshall, and the separate identity of both villages.
Locals are aware that Blandford’s infrastructure is already under serious strain – in particular the schools and the medical practice.
Traffic conditions are already poor. The recent approval of 490 homes in north Blandford will exacerbate the situation and this scheme would make it even worse. Road access onto the site will be difficult, if not dangerous.
The land promoter has reduced the number of homes to reduce density, allowing more tree planting and open spaces, but the development is still likely to cause harm to the adjacent Cranborne Chase National Landscape and the setting of the historic heart of Blandford St Mary.
Furthermore, good arable land, which should be producing food at a time of concern over the UK’s food security, will be lost. It should also retain its role as a carbon sink.
CPRE strongly believes this development should be refused. No-one knows which builder might acquire the site from Hallam and there is no assurance of build quality.
Cllr Malcom Albery, chairman of BSMPC, says: ‘Blandford St Mary parish and its environment are being destroyed by unnecessary development. The only beneficiaries of this scheme would be the landowner and the land promoter, Hallam Land Management.’
Local residents are encouraged to comment on the Planning Portal up to the 16th January at planning.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/ – the specific planning application is P/OUT/2023/07266.

*The website of LPFD (the Land Planning and Developers Federation) defines land promoting as ‘providing “oven-ready” sites with planning permission that can easily be acquired and built out quickly by national, regional and SME house-builders.’

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