Dorset planning chief defends housing goals

DORSET Planning Officer Cllr David Walsh said there were no “exceptional circumstances” that would allow the region to sidestep government housing targets.

He said while neighbors, BCP, might have a case, rural Dorset – which has already offered to provide an additional 9,000 housing units for the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole area in addition to its own target of a minimum of 39,000 new homes over the next 17 years.

Cllr Walsh, the planning record holder, said that even if a different calculation method than the government’s baseline figures in 2014 were used to determine the rural county’s housing needs, the overall difference in numbers would be small.

PCO deputy board chief Philip Broadhead is currently challenging the government’s calculation methods by asking that more recent benchmarks be used instead. He argues that the BCP zone deserves to be an exception to the rules.

The authority should also establish its own assessment of housing needs for the future based on its own calculations.

At Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, Cllr Walsh was questioned by the Dorset campaign to protect rural England why he was not doing the same for Dorset.

Gillingham’s adviser said he saw no exceptional circumstances for Dorset to do anything other than follow government guidelines.

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