Sherborne housing row: 'Town will slowly die without new homes'
Calls have been made for more affordable housing in Sherborne despite councillors objecting for a second time to plans for 200-plus homes in the town.
On Monday Sherborne town councillors objected to amended plans seeking permission to develop land at Barton Farm to the north west of the town.
The plans include 286 new homes, a 60-bed care home, employment land with space for commercial premises and a flood-defence scheme.
Councillors reiterated objections that the development would cause havoc with the town’s infrastructure and its appearance would not be in keeping with the town.
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They also objected to proposals to fell trees in order to create public access from the development to the town centre through an area known as the Secret Garden.
But sparks flew as mayor Peter Rhodes accused Katharine Pike, leader of Sherborne town council’s plans committee, of resisting any new housing for the town.
He said: “I think that you don’t want any new houses at all in Sherborne.
“If you stop housing coming into a town it will slowly die.”
At a previously meeting Mr Rhodes said that development in the town was needed, but in a much smaller scale, and welcomed the idea of housing which youngsters could afford in order to live in the town.
Mrs Pike insisted the development would ruin the town’s unspoilt, historic draw and said the town had already doubled in size since the 1960s.
She added that current housing figures show there are more than 100 unoccupied homes in the town.
The news comes as Western Gazette reader Katie Mccormack made claims she has been pushed out of the town by a lack of housing.
Mrs Mccormack, 28, of South Avenue, lives in a two-bed house provided by Magna Housing Association with her husband and four children.
She says she was relying on the Barton Farm development to bring in much-needed housing.
Mrs Mccormack, who has now been offered another house in Yeovil, said: “I’ve lived here all my life and most of my family still live here.
“I would love to stay here but there’s nowhere for us to go.
“We cannot afford to buy a house and I don’t think we ever will be able to.”
Mrs Mccormack, who does not drive, says the move means she will have to move her children to another school and quit her job.
She said: “They are going to have to do something to cope with the people in the town. I think we have a right to try and stay in a town we love and a town we grew up in, but I think the Barton Farm development should be to a smaller scale.”
Father-of-two Darren Kasapi, 24, of Littlefield, said existing homes in Sherborne are never very affordable for first time buyers.
He said: “Sherborne Town Council has got to wake up and stop living in the past and start looking to the future.”
Town councillors have now written to members of West Dorset District Council’s Development Control Committee ahead of their meeting to decide to approve or reject the plans next Thursday.
The letter lists conditions to be imposed on the development “at an absolute minimum” should it be approved, which must be agreed with the town council before any district council approval to the plans.
They include no more than 230 dwellings to be built on the development, no care home, each house to have a minimum of two off-street parking spaces and improvements to the town’s infrastructure to be paid by the developer.
Councillor Matt Hall said a Sherborne Liberal Democrat party newsletter, which had included an opinion slip on the development, has had an overwhelming response.
He said: “The response seems to be that most people do not want to see any large developments in the town.”
The district council’s development control committee will decide on the planning application on Thursday, September 13, at 11am in the Digby Hall, Hound Street.