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29 September 2010, 12:18
Plans to re-locate a council on the south coast at a cost of £11 million have been approved.
West Dorset District Council wants to move to newer offices as part of a £60 million revamp in Dorchester. The Charles Street Development will also see new shops, a hotel and 18 homes built, creating around 784 jobs.
The council’s had around 250 letters of objection about their move, with some people angry at the cost of moving the offices, but the authority claims it will save £145,000 a year.
Campaigners held a demonstration at the meeting on Tuesday but their objections failed to stop councillors agreeing the plans.
Cllr Fred Horsington, Chairman of West Dorset District Council’s Development Control Committee, said after the meeting:
“We listened carefully to the many views for and against Simons’ redevelopment plans. The committee felt that the Charles Street site offers the best option to expand Dorchester town centre. The proposal meets Government policy of focusing new shops and offices in or next to existing town centres.
“The committee concluded that the scheme presents a unique opportunity to improve the special appeal of Dorchester and reinforce its role as the county town.”
Mark Newton, Development Director at Simons, said:
“These proposals represent £60 million of future private investment in Dorchester at a time when few towns in the UK are seeing this kind of commitment from developers.
“The new retail, leisure and residential units will help to secure the future of the town centre, benefiting existing businesses in Dorchester as well as attracting other retailers into the town.
“We have undergone extensive consultation with the local community and now believe we have the right plans at the right time.
“Everyone in Dorchester will be aware of the long-standing desire to redevelop this site. We now finally have the opportunity to make this vision a reality.”
Cllr Robert Gould, Leader of West Dorset District Council, said:
“Dorchester and West Dorset is the ideal place for local and national businesses to invest. With our population due to hit 100,000 in the next year or two, we look forward to welcoming more small independent and larger High Street names to the county town.
“We have that enviable combination - a historic built heritage and exciting plans to redevelop key sites in the county town of Dorchester.
“The retail-led Charles Street and residential/leisure-led Brewery Square schemes put Dorchester and West Dorset in an ideal position to emerge strongly from the recession.”
Consent for the Charles Street scheme is subject to various planning conditions and legal agreements.