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Councillor Challenges Town Council Objection To Persimmon’s Plans In Planning Hearing

Shaftesbury Town councillor Karen Tippins has challenged the Town Council’s position on the retention of employment land on the south side of the A30 Salisbury Road.

She spoke during yesterday’s Planning hearing. The Planning Inspector will decide whether Persimmon can build a new housing estate, with some commercial units, following the two-day hearing.

Land south of the A30 Salisbury Road.

Shaftesbury Town Council, Shaftesbury Neighbourhood Plan, Shaftesbury Chamber of Commerce and Dorset Council want the land ringfenced for future employment. Both councils claim it’s the only suitable remaining plot for job-creating larger businesses in the town. Persimmon has taken its proposal to build 135 homes and a hotel or care home to appeal because Dorset Council took too long to determine the application.

Shaftesbury Town Council’s Planning Committee had agreed that Cllrs John Lewer and Phil Proctor would address the online planning hearing. But Cllr Karen Tippins chose to speak too. She challenged the Town Council position over retaining the employment-use designation. Cllr John Lewer intervened, telling the Planning Inspector, “She doesn’t speak for the Town Council. That was a personal view.”

Cllr Karen Tippins

The seven hectares were identified for employment use in 2003, but Persimmon felt that the evidence was old, and they questioned whether this zoning reflects current requirements. Cllr Tippins favoured the mixed-use development of some commercial units and homes proposed in Persimmon’s application. She claimed that residents she had spoken with didn’t want to live opposite an industrial site. And Cllr Tippins said a 2015 survey had revealed that few local people worked in industry. Many residents were employed in the service or public sectors. She favoured non-industrial land use and highlighted interest shown in the site by ‘Yeovil University’.

Some Town councillors have claimed that Persimmon’s offer to build a school as part of their proposed mixed development is a red herring designed to get support for their homebuilding plan. Dorset Council planning officer Robert Lennis told the hearing that he understood that a school would not be needed within the next five years. That was the Town Council’s understanding, too. But Cllr Tippins says she has an email that suggests otherwise. The hearing continues.

Click below to listen.