West Dorset group of CPRE say Thomas Hardy’s ‘Casterbridge’ is under threat

West Dorset group of CPRE say Thomas Hardy’s ‘Casterbridge' is under threat

Caption: View looking north east across the development site

Dorchester, Political | Posted: Monday, October 1st, 2018 at 2:47 pm | return to news

West Dorset group of CPRE say Thomas Hardy’s ‘Casterbridge' is under threat

Casterbridge aka Dorchester is under threat from development say representatives of West Dorset CPRE

West Dorset group of CPRE say Thomas Hardy’s ‘Casterbridge' is under threat

Caption: View looking north east across the development site

he historic county town of Dorchester in Dorset, renowned for its Roman origins and literary connection with Thomas Hardy, is seemingly under threat from a huge development that will see the population of the historic town increase by 35% – swallowing up hundreds of acres of beautiful countryside.

The proposed development is a result of demands from central government that West Dorset allocates additional land for what they believe will be a huge increase in housing needs.

The West Dorset Group of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) argues that the forecasts are based upon skewed predictions with scant regard to the effect on an overstretched infrastructure in what is essentially a rural community. There is also a concern that most of the houses will be large and unaffordable, rather than low cost or social housing that is needed to help ease the housing crisis.

The local campaigners believe planners are ‘sleep walking’ into the proposals, driven purely by flawed housing targets from central government with no regard to the long-term preservation of one of the town’s most beautiful landscapes.

The area in contention features the unique River Frome water meadows of Thomas Hardy’s Wessex, made famous with novels such as the Mayor of Casterbridge and Far From the Madding Crowd. Currently the area remains the last unspoilt boundary of the town, steeped in history with an abundance in wild- and plant-life. It is an area much frequented by locals, tourists and those seeking out the origins of Hardy’s ‘Casterbridge’. The Frome water meadows, the skyline and the accompanying views and walks define the northern aspect of the town.

West Dorset CPRE believes the North Dorchester development will destroy valuable countryside, resulting in Dorchester becoming yet another road-encircled, featureless urban mass with further traffic congestion and pressure on already stretched communications, schools and healthcare. It is urging planners to look at other housing alternatives, such as the large number of empty shops and other brownfield sites.

Dorchester Town Council has objected to the development and now CPRE is urging the public to do the same. Have your say by writing to the Local Plan Consultation, WDDC, South Walks House, Dorchester DT1 1UZ or email strategic@dorset.gov.uk by 8 October.

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