‘Unforeseen Circumstances’ Affect Shaftesbury Town Council’s Local Plan Response

Dorset Council is reminding us that the Local Plan consultation ends on 15th March. The extensive document will guide decisions on planning applications until 2038.

Dorset’s Liberal Democrats have called on the Conservative-controlled authority to extend the consultation period. Lib-Dems claim that coronavirus has prevented some residents from visiting libraries to scrutinise plans.

But Cllr David Walsh says statistics reveal significant numbers of people engaging with the Local Plan consultation, despite the pandemic. YouTube video presentations have been viewed more than 5,000 times and 34,000 people have accessed the Local Plan pages on the Dorset Council website.

Some town and parish councils have arranged online surgeries to discuss the impact of the Local Plan on their communities. Around 100 people attended one of these sessions in Gillingham.

Shaftesbury Town Council didn’t follow this option but agreed to invite a representative of Shaftesbury Civic Society, the Open Spaces group, the Neighbourhood Plan, Chamber of Commerce and The Maltings Residents’ Society to join a working party with town councillors. This group was supposed to form of view on how the Local Plan relates to Shaftsbury and to make recommendations to the town council. But Shaftesbury Town Council says ‘unforeseen circumstances’ mean that the working party hasn’t been able to meet. Instead, the group’s members have been asked to provide comments. This feedback will be discussed on Tuesday during the Full Council meeting.

Dorset Council says there’s still time to call a dedicated phone line Monday to Friday, 10am to 2pm, to ask questions about the Local Plan. The number is 01305 252500. You can also find details of the Local Plan on the Dorset Council website.