Dorset Council prepares to put Local Plan out for consultation

DORSET Council’s draft Local Plan, which will guide decisions on future planning applications and developments for the next 15 years, will go out to consultation in the New Year.

The local plan outlines the strategy for ensuring the growth that the area needs happens in the right places, and is of the right character and quality, while protecting Dorset’s natural environment and acting on climate change.

It also ensures that the right level of community services is provided, including schools, as well as retail, leisure and other community facilities.

Why is the Local Plan important?

The Dorset Council Local Plan sets out planning policies and allocations to meet the needs of the whole of the Dorset Council area until at least the year 2038.

Once adopted, the Local Plan, alongside any Neighbourhood Plans, will be the legal starting point in determining planning applications for the area.

The papers and plan can be viewed by clicking here and will be discussed by the council’s Cabinet this month ahead of the consultation.

If there isn’t a local plan in place then the ability for Dorset Council to influence the location and character of developments is limited.

Why is consultation important?

Planning affects the future of Dorset. The council wants to be sure that everybody can be involved in both the preparation of the Local Plan and decisions on planning applications.

Involvement of public and stakeholders through the plan making process is important, as it allows local knowledge and expertise to be gathered from a wide range of perspectives.

Who will be consulted?

The council is required to consult with a range of stakeholders, including public bodies such as the Environment Agency and voluntary bodies such as local charities.

The council will continue to consult town and parish councils, who can provide a wealth of local knowledge and represent the concerns of local residents.

The Duty to Cooperate, a legal test that requires cooperation with neighbouring planning authorities, means that the council will be talking to neighbouring councils to ensure that all housing and employment needs have been met.

To ensure proposals are deliverable, the council will work with local landowners and the development industry, alongside infrastructure and service providers.

The council believes that all residents and businesses operating in the area should have the opportunity to be involved in the plan making process and they are therefore invited to comment on the draft local plan.

When will this happen?

The first Dorset Council Local Plan consultation will begin in January 2021 and will last for eight weeks. There will be a further opportunity to comment in late 2021 before the plan is submitted for independent examination and adopted in 2023.

 How you can have your say?

The draft Dorset Council Local Plan will be available on the council’s website at

During the consultation, there will be displays in libraries where you can borrow a hard copy of the plan. A dedicated phone line will be available for enquiries from Monday to Friday. The council will also be holding virtual webinars on key themes within the Local Plan for residents to discover and ask questions about proposals.

There is also a series of podcasts that have been developed to help people understand key local plan topics such as consultation, housing, the Green Belt and infrastructure (including roads and public transport). These are available via Spotify, iTunes and Anchor.

Cllr David Walsh, Dorset Council portfolio holder for planning, said: “We are planning for Dorset’s future, for the future of our residents. It is so important that we understand everyone’s view on the draft Local Plan as much as we can.

“We are working closely with all our stakeholders, our own councillors and town and parish councils to make sure we reach all parts of Dorset.”

What will happen to the old local and neighbourhood plans?

The Draft Dorset Council Local Plan has used all the information gathered by the former borough and district councils.

The Purbeck Local Plan is the only one that was at an advanced stage and, once it has completed a final consultation and been independently examined, it will form part of the Dorset area plan until the Dorset Council Local Plan is adopted.

Neighbourhood plans will be used in conjunction with the overall Dorset Council Local Plan to inform planning decisions.

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