17th June 2010 - updated 5th August 2010

Regional Spatial Strategy and the Recent Threat to the North Bournemouth Green Belt

Government Plans for Regional Housing

On 6th July 2010, confirmation was received from Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, as follows:- attached letter - document

Whereas it is obviously hugely beneficial that decisions on local housing numbers will be made by the local authority, the government will be putting some very powerful incentives in place to encourage building.

The onus will be on Local Authorities to consult with residents and the need for all Forum Members to support Forum and shape the future of our own area will become increasingly important.

Since 2006, this Forum has taken an extremely active interest in the preparation of the South West Regional Assembly’s Regional Spatial Strategy, in particular, the provision of Gypsy and Traveller sites in the Borough and proposals to force Bournemouth to build 1,500 new homes in our only remaining area of Green Belt.

TMSTH Area Forum was a founder member of the committee of the South East Dorset Defence Consortium (see details below) organising publicity, letter writing, emails, demonstrations, lobbying, a Green Protest Rally and we took a petition 10 Downing Street in October 2008.

Thanks to the massive of amount of opposition raised to the proposals, collectively, over 30,000 objections, the Strategy was fatally delayed until after the recent elections and a change of Government.

Immediately after his re-election, our M.P. Tobias Ellwood, met the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, who assured him the new coalition will scrap the Regional Spatial Strategies and return decisions on local housing supplies to the Local Authorities. This was then confirmed in writing on 25th May, 2010, in a letter to the Chief planning Officers and the Planning Inspectorate:-



  • The draft Regional Spatial Strategy was prepared by the South West Regional Assembly in 2006.
  • Bournemouth Borough Council and elected representatives - including Cllr Ron Whittaker, had put forward evidence based arguments to exclude development of our North Bournemouth Green Belt which goes from the Spur Road to Muscliff and this was accepted in the original draft.
  • The South West Regional Assembly then commissioned the ARUP report, testing the draft RSS for soundness, which despite representations from Bournemouth Borough Council, was adopted by the Independent panel and development of the Green Belt was reinstated.
  • A report by transport consultant, Mouchel, showed Castle Lane already at or over capacity.
  • Other objections include the desecration of Bournemouth’s last bit of Green Belt and destruction of good quality farm land, damage to ecology and environment, loss of green space for leisure (Suitable Alternative Natural Green Spaces SANGS) and Heathland Mitigation, increased flood risk, increase in congestion and air pollution, no money for schools, Health services, sewage systems and damage to the character of Bournemouth and its Conservation areas.
  • The South East Dorset Defence Consortium was formed to fight these proposals. This consists of the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) 6 Councils (Bournemouth, Poole, Dorset County, Christchurch, East Dorset and Purbeck) and 7 Action Groups (Corfe Mullen, Parley, Wimborne, Lytchett Matravers, Lytchett Minster, Upton and TMSTH Area Forum (working closely with Littledown Forum).
  • The main campaign thrust was letter writing, after Forum tried to obtain consultation forms for everyone, but the Government Office for the South West refused. It was, however, getting worried by the huge response.
  • Demonstrations were held at all Council meetings and there was across the board support for NO development in North Bournemouth.
  • A Green Protest Rally was held on 14th September in Bournemouth Square.
  • On 9th October 2008, the Consortium made a deputation to Parliament and our Secretary handed in the petition which had been collected by Forum Members, to 10 Downing Street.
  • January 09. The Secretary of State, Hazel Blears, published her Draft Revised Regional Spatial Strategy for the South West which also ignored the evidence from our local Council and concerns voiced by our elected representatives, in particular, there being no provision whatsoever to fund the hugely expensive infrastructure that would be required, making the housing undeliverable (1 ¼ miles over flood plain from Muscliff to Northbourne roundabout for the Castle Lane relief Road. Cllr Whittaker has taken photographs showing the entire area flooded).
  • June 09. John Denham M.P. becomes Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. The Consortium writes to him requesting a meeting.
  • June 09. Dorset County Council, Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch confirm they would mount a joint legal challenge if draft housing numbers are approved.
  • June 09. GOSW confirms a delay in plans to publish the final version of the RSS.
  • September 09. Government Office for the South West and the Department for Communities and Local Government announce that due to the unprecedented number of representations (about 35,000) objecting to levels of housing growth set, a new Sustainability Assessment would be commissioned to assess whether the proposals were the best way forward.
  • October 09. A packed meeting of the South West Regional Assembly confirms support for the South West Plan, but holds major reservations about delivering Government’s new housing targets.
  • It has by now become apparent the RSS will be delayed until after the forthcoming elections.