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Residents relaunch attack on planned Poundbury expansion

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The row over the extension of the Prince of Wales' model village of Poundbury reignited this week after a local campaign group attacked West Dorset District Council over a new planning document.

Poundbury Residents Opposed to Density (PROD) accused planners of either a 'conspiracy' or a 'cock-up' in drafting a blueprint for a high-profile extension to the Leon Krier-masterplanned settlement.

The new planning document is being produced after a debacle last year when proposals for a new apartment building by local architect Lionel Gregory were rejected by a planning inspector.

PROD battled the previous development saying it was out of scale and character with the rest of the village and has now set its sights on the new plans. Its members have written a formal complaint to West Dorset District Council's chief executive, David Clarke, alleging maladministration.

The group claims the council has ignored its fears of over-development, voiced during consultation for draft development principles in March this year.

It believes the document will become a 'rubber-stamp' for building a 'carbuncle' of high-density housing.

PROD is also angry that a planning consultation to formalise the principles is being rushed through in an 'alarmingly short' two-week deadline which ends on May 19.

David Dawkins, of PROD, said: 'West Dorset's planning department has demonstrated a quite breathtaking disregard once again for local people's opinions in drafting new development principles for Poundbury that, frankly, could have been written on the back of a fag packet before this sham consultation exercise was ever conducted.

'It is astonishing enough that a development brief was never prepared for Poundbury before the first homes were built here 13 years ago, but now the council is saying 'look how good we are for consulting with the community' while then totally ignoring what people have told them.

'It's either conspiracy or cock-up.'

PROD now fears the draft development policy will allow even more five-storey buildings, including shops and flats and a development on Bridport Road dubbed 'Dartmoor jail'.

Dawkins said: 'This is the most important part of the whole planning process, it's when consultation turns into actual draft policy for the first time.

'To try and gag public opinion at this stage is undemocratic, unfair and tantamount to daylight robbery.'

He added: 'You only have to ask how many planning applications West Dorset Council has refused in 13 years on Poundbury to find it's only one, which tells its own story in terms of the council exercising any meaningful control on the development.'

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