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Dorset Local Plan: Exceptional Circumstances and Accountability

The draft Dorset Local Plan has recently been put out for public consultation. Even though the Dorset Local Plan relies heavily on “Exceptional Circumstances” to justify the removal of large tracts of Green Belt land, the level of publicity for this vital consultation has (to say the least) been somewhat subdued.

We pointed out our initial concerns in THIS POST and described how to be part of the consultation in THIS POST. There will be many more posts on this topic to come.

The review period for this major document extends from 18th January through to 15th March. That is a period of a mere 8 weeks. The absolute minimum period allowed for such a consultation is 6 weeks.

Even then, a 6 week timescale would only be regarded as tenable if there were (to use the Dorset Local Plan’s favourite Green Belt destroying phrase): Exceptional Circumstances.

But these are hardly “normal times” are they? Just in case anyone missed it, we do happen to be in the middle of the largest pandemic in over 102 years. While no sensible person objects to the curtailment of rights of assembly in such a time, it does make democratic debate exceptionally (that word again) difficult.

So does any one really consider a consultation period a mere two weeks longer than the barest minimum adequate? In these times? Really?

Extend the Consultation Phase.

It would seem reasonable to push out the time span to enable people to freely meet and debate the very serious issues this plan has brought up. This of course would mean the end of the draft consultation phrase being pushed out to later in this year. Unfortunately though, Dorset Council do not seem to be pro-active in promoting a proper consultation period. So maybe they need prompting.

We suggest that you write/email those in authority who may have influence over Dorset Council. Perhaps they could nudge the council into doing the decent thing and extend the period.

Our chairman has started the ball rolling with emails to Boris Johnson MP, Christopher Chope MP and Christopher Pincher MP. (See his letter HERE).

We would suggest that one of your your local councillors (see list) would be good addressee to start with as well as the local MP. Of course you may like to add Boris and the housing Minister for good measure. As well as the Dorset Council Chair.

A couple of sentences is all that’s is needed.

Email Addresses

Here are a selection of email addresses you may find useful.

cllrrod.adkins@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk (Ferndown South)

cllrjulie.robinson@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk (Ferndown South)

cllrmike.parkes@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk (Ferndown North)

cllrcathy.lugg@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk (Ferndown North)

cllrandrew.parry@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk (West Parley)

cllrvalerie.pothecary@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk (Dorset Council Chair)

If you live elsewhere in Dorset/UK but are as equally concerned as we are, then the email for other Dorset councillors can be found on THIS LINK.

Our local MP is Sir Christopher Chope MP: chopec@parliament.uk

The Housing minister is Christopher Pincher MP: christopher.pincher.mp@parliament.uk

And everybody knows who Boris Johnson is: boris.johnson.mp@parliament.uk

p.s. Don’t forget to mention the Dorset Local Plan and it’s “Exceptional Circumstances”. I am sure Dorset Council will know what you mean.

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