South West Regional Spatial Strategy

24th June 2009

Dorset CPRE : Terry Stewart : 01202-701637
Keep Corfe Mullen Green : Brian Lane : 01202-656720
Keep West Parley Green : Dick Heaslip : 01202-594982
Keep Wimborne & Colehill Green: Sheila Bourton : 01202-639300
SAVE Lytchett Minster : Michael Tomlinson : 01202-632507
CALM Lytchett Matravers : Martyn Colvey : 01202-631231
Upton Action Group : Simon Thomson : 01202-621574
Throop Muscliff Strouden Townsend and
Holdenhurst Area Forum : 01202-301622
1 Canford Cliffs Avenue
Poole. BH14 9QN


The Dorset Green Belt Protection Consortium representing the 7 Dorset Villages threatened with housing development in their Green Belt, have written to John Denham, the new Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. They have requested a meeting in the attached letter which sets out 7 solid reasons why the proposed Regional Spatial Strategy proposals are in breach of the Government’s own Green Belt Policy. They also want to support the High Court Legal Challenge which Dorset Councils are planning, because the Plan has not conducted the EU required Environmental Assessment. Councils in the East of England have achieved a High Court Judgement against their Green Belt housing, and this sets a precedent for us I S.E. Dorset.

“We are coming up to a General Election, with Parliament in disarray,” said Terry Stewart, President of Dorset CPRE, “surely the Government does not want to over-ride the democratic wishes of Dorset residents and Dorset Councils.”

Dorset CPRE : Terry Stewart : 01202-701637
Keep Corfe Mullen Green : Brian Lane : 01202-656720
Keep West Parley Green : Dick Heaslip : 01202-594982
Keep Wimborne & Colehill Green: Sheila Bourton : 01202-639300
SAVE Lytchett Minster : Michael Tomlinson : 01202-632507
CALM Lytchett Matravers : Martyn Colvey : 01202-631231
Upton Action Group : Simon Thomson : 01202-621574
Throop Muscliff Strouden Townsend and
Holdenhurst Area Forum : 01202-301622
1 Canford Cliffs Avenue
Poole. BH14 9QN

June 22, 2009.
Rt. Hon. John Denham MP,
Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government,
Eland House,
Bressenden Place,
London SW1E 5DU

S.W. Regional RSS: Attack on Our Green Belt

We are a Consortium that has been strongly opposing the S.W. Region RSS proposal to build houses on the S.E. Dorset Green Belt. We comprise the 7 Action Groups from the threatened Villages and communities, and Dorset CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England).

We strongly advocate that you should review and withdraw these proposals for the following reasons:

1. Lack of Democracy and Local Authority Approval
The proposal to build a New Town at Lytchett Minster with 2,750 houses was proposed by no democratic Council, but solely by the Planning Inspector with no statutory Review. The proposal to add 1,500 houses in North Bournemouth at Throop and Holdenhurst was added by the previous Secretary of State, again without the Statutory Review. The proposed 3,000 houses in the 3 East Dorset District villages is not supported by either the County Council or the East Dorset District Council.

In your recent announcement you “pledged to re-examine the relationship between central and local Government as part of the Government’s drive to renew Britain’s democracy and restore trust in the political system at every level.” We trust you will enforce this policy.

A letter from GOSW states: “PPS3 puts the responsibility on local authorities to decide where to locate housing …to minimise the call on greenfield and designated Green Belt land.” Planning guidance confirms that decisions should be made by the relevant Local Authority.

2. No Strategic Environmental Assessment
The successful legal Challenge from the Councils against the East of England proposals to build in the Green Belt shows the imperative need to follow the EU Directive and conduct a proper Environmental Assessment. Obviously this has not been done for Lytchett Minster and North Bournemouth. As GOSW has said: “any proposal to change the boundary of a Green Belt and any development proposal for land in the Green Belt, whatever its scale, is subject to stringent tests.” This has not been done. The proposals also do not comply with the EU Habitats Directive.

3. Legal Challenge to S.E. Dorset Green Belt Housing
All Dorset Councils have voted to mount a Legal Challenge against the proposed Green Belt housing, if this is still included in your final Edict, for not conducting an approved Environmental Assessment. Indeed Bournemouth Council have recently voted the money for this Challenge. This will seriously delay the approval of the S.W. Regional RSS, and bring its Approval into the General Election hiatus period.

4. No Funding for the Infrastructure for the Green Belt Houses
The previous Secretary of State dictated that there would not be central funds for the infrastructure for these developments, with the assumption that they would be funded by the developers, using Section 106 moneys, etc. In the current Recession and economic decline, developers are clearly stating that they will not pay the infrastructure levies. The S.W. Region RSS is based on the unsupportable assumption that there will be a 3.2% annual average growth in the Region for the next 20 years. In the current reality, this is clearly unrealistic.

5. Increase in Travel to Work
The villages and communities threatened by the Green Belt houses are mostly dormitories for the Pool/Bournemouth conurbation. Therefore any development will drastically increase the Travel to Work by car - which is against Government policy. Public transport in S.E. Dorset is already extremely poor, and will not be able to deliver commuters to all the workplaces in the future, such as Bournemouth Airport.

6. Traffic Congestion Causing Air Pollution
The Poole and Bournemouth Councils have already reported to Region that the 48,000 extra houses and 45,000 extra jobs will cause traffic congestion and an increase in air pollution, from the estimated 60,000 extra cars and 5,000 extra commercial vehicles and HGVs. in the conurbation. Additional car commuting Travel to Work from the dormitory communities will only increase these serious social and health problems.

7. Development Should be Phased Sequentially
PPS3 states that there is a presumption that housing development should be prioritised towards previously developed land. Since there is so much environmentally sensitive land and EU protected Dorset Heathlands around the conurbation, this unique asset should be protected. The Government stated reason for the Green Belt is to prevent urban sprawl. The current interim Dorset Heathland Regulations have not been fully evaluated to check that they do protect wildlife, and they might be extended in the future.

Before you issue your final evaluation of the S.W. Region RSS, we would be grateful for the opportunity of a meeting with you to review additional facts and factors.

Yours sincerely,

Terry Stewart.
President Dorset CPRE on behalf of the Consortium with their signatures attached.

Dorset Green Belt Protection Consortium Signatures


17th June 2009

  Government Office of the South West Logo - South West Regional Spatial Strategy Bournemouth

15th June 2009 Jon Bright
Regional Director
South West Local Authority Chief Executives 2 Rivergate
Temple Quay
Bristol BS1 6EH
GTN: 1361 1701
Tel: 0117 900 1701
Fax: 0117 900 1901
(Sent by E-mail) E-mail:
Dear Chief Executive,

I thought it would be helpful if I let you know personally about the latest position on the South West Regional Spatial Strategy.

As you will be aware, the Secretary of State planned to publish the final version of the RSS at the end of June. However, on 20 May, the High Court gave an oral judgment that the published Regional Spatial Strategy for the East of England failed to meet certain requirements of the EU Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive in respect of policies relating to three towns.

We are currently considering the potential implications for the Regional Spatial Strategy for the South West, but cannot reach a clear view until the written judgement is issued by the Court. It is not possible to set a new timetable, until the implications of the judgment have been clarified, and what action is required, if any.

I will, of course, keep you updated.

Yours Sincerely.

John Bright Signature - South West Regional Spatial Strategy Bournemouth


Update - Regional Spatial Strategy - Forum June 18th 2009
The situation regarding the release date of the South West Regional Spatial Strategy, by the Secretary of State, in which, amongst other things, the housing numbers for Bournemouth and the status of our Green Belt will be laid down by Government, is changing almost daily at the moment.

With the enormously successful public opposition campaigns in which this Forum played and is still playing a significant part, the amount of time it has taken GOSW to process the 35,000 letters of objection then the departure of Hazel Blears and her replacement, John Denham’s promise that he will look at it himself - it is most likely we will not know until at least the end of October, after the summer recess.

Should his conclusions be contrary to those stated by Dorset County Council, Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch Authorities a joint Legal Challenge may be launched. There are only 6 weeks to do this from the date of the RSS being released and therefore the instructing solicitor at Dorset County Council has been gathering supporting material from across the County.

Bournemouth has submitted the representations made on the Draft RSS proposed changes concerning the North Bournemouth Urban Extension (the Green Belt) overall housing provision and the lack of infrastructure planning, a note expressing our concerns about the latest household projections which show a reduction in anticipated household growth to 2026 and a copy of the North Bournemouth Transport Appraisal undertaken by Mouchel (which as we mentioned previously, shows that Castle Lane is already at or above peak capacity).

The material was requested by 15th May and the initial opinion is that we have a good case, although a definitive answer is not possible until the decision is published. Objections would be lodged on process, i.e. there was no democratic involvement in putting forward the land selected and the effect on the environment without the necessary infrastructure.

On Monday, we received the excellent news that the legal challenge launched in the South East of England to their Regional Spatial Strategy was successful and this could obviously set a valuable precedent for our RSS.

And in the evening, at a meeting of the Dorset Defence Consortium made up of the seven action groups, of which we are one, the Councils and the CPRE, it was decided to:-
  • Continue to lobby our M.Ps
  • Write to the new Secretary of State, the letter signed by all groups to reassert our unity
  • Stick together as a group even if the final housing numbers come out in favour of our particular area - there may be an attempt to divide and separate.
  • Report any application to build in the Green Belt to the consortium. Just being in the draft is a ‘material consideration’ in any appeal.
  • Remain vigilant as whoever wins the next election will have housing number plans and offer incentives to Councils to fulfil these.
  • Tie in with the Bristol Group who are highly active and co-ordinating with the CPRE
In a recorded vote last week, our full Council gave 100 per cent support to release funding for the joint legal challenge, our M.P. Tobias Ellwood has tabled questions in Parliament and it is thought unlikely this fading Government will be looking for a fight, but one thing is very clear:-

If we win this one, it will be down to ordinary people like you and me, who take the trouble to turn out to meetings like these, who are prepared to put pen to paper, go round raising awareness and refuse to listen to doubters who say you can’t make a difference, because we can - and we do. Our elected representatives need our input and support and this Forum makes a difference.

Campaign to Protect Rural England

Patron: Her Majesty the Queen

The Little Keep
Bridport Road
Dorchester DT1 1SQ
Tel/Fax 01305 265808
Please reply to:
1 Canford Cliffs Avenue
Poole. BH14 (QN
Tel: 01202-701637



The High Court has rejected the East of England Regional Plan to build thousands of houses on the Green Belt North of Greater London. The Judge ruled that inadequate consideration was given to the environmental effects of the expansion. Dorset campaigners - fighting to protect the S.E. Dorset Green Belt - believe this sets a great precedent which could save our Green Belt. Over 35,000 objections were sent in to the previous Secretary of State, Hazel Blears, stating that the S.W. Regional Plan was not based on objective environmental analysis.

The final Government Edict on our Regional Plan was due to be issued at the end of June. But with the change of Secretary of State to John Denham, there is likely to be a further delay while he personally vets the Plan. All Dorset Councils have agreed to take the Plan to the High Court for Judicial Review when the Edict is finally issued.

“The Government has continually promised to protect Green Belts which stop urban sprawl, but their Plans directly breach their own promises,” said Terry Stewart, President of Dorset CPRE, “the 7 Action Groups from the threatened communities are holding a fighting meeting on June 15 to agree a combat Action Programme.”


Further Information from:

Terry Stewart, Dorset CPRE. Tel: 01202-701637.

Brian Lane, Chairman ‘Keep Corfe Mullen Green’: Tel: 01202-656720.

Richard Heaslip, Chairman ‘Keep West Parley Green’: Tel: 01202-594982.

Sheila Bourton, Chair ‘Keep Wimborne & Colehill Green’. Tel: 01202-639300.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England exists to promote the beauty, tranquillity and diversity of rural England by
encouraging the sustainable use of land and other natural resources in town and country
Registered Charity No: 211974


7th January 2009

Regional Spatial Strategy and Report from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Hazel Blears

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.
The Secretary of State, Hazel Blears, has now published her Draft Revised Regional Spatial Strategy for the South West and this also ignores 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).
A recent report by transport consultant, Mouchel, shows 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.
Outside Westminster with other members from Dorset Defence Consortium Protesting outside Downing Street
Outside Westminster with other members from Dorset Defence Consortium Protesting outside Downing Street
Tobias Ellwood MP and Annette Brook MP with Consortium Members Handing in the Petition from TMSTH Area Forum
Tobias Ellwood MP and Annette Brook MP with Consortium Members Handing in the Petition from TMSTH Area Forum

The fight goes on in East Dorset and in Westminster and because of the huge response, the results are not expected until mid 2009.

On 10th October, the SWRA gave out the news release below:-
Assembly Confirms Support for South West Plan, But Holds Major Reservations About Delivering Government’s New Housing Growth Targets
Regional Leaders are clear that their strategy for the South West will deliver the right amount of new development for future prosperity and meet long term housing needs in the most sustainable way.
A packed meeting debated the long term future of the South West, as set out in the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS), when the Assembly met in Exeter on 10 October. The merits of the Secretary of State’s proposed changes to the long term plan, signed off in draft by the Assembly two years ago, came under fire. Over 80 Councillors and more than 20 regional stakeholders discussed economic growth prospects, the level of housing/dwellings to be built; affordable housing; and environmental issues, including flooding and the loss of a real South West identity in the document.
The Assembly is clear that the plan they submitted in 2006 was ambitious and optimistic, but also realistic and based on robust evidence and testing through local discussion. Members expressed a clear desire to deliver the 23,000 dwellings per year for 20 years, originally proposed by the Assembly in the Draft RSS. The Assembly has major reservations about the region’s ability to deliver over and above this figure each year as the Secretary of State proposes, irrespective of the current economic climate. The Assembly is strongly of the view that any new proposals should have a proper evidence base.
Cllr Sir Simon Day, Chairman of the Assembly and Assembly Member, said:
“In the South West’s long term plan, produced by the region for the region, we proposed a high level of growth supporting economic prosperity and avoiding major damage to our unique environment keeping the distinctiveness of the region”.
“The Assembly has made tough decisions at regional level about growth and we reject the higher housing figures now proposed by Government. After all our careful work to develop a regional strategy what we have now received from Government is a top down approach to the future of the region.”
Cllr Helen Holland, Deputy Chair of the Assembly and Assembly Member, said:
"We welcome the Secretary of State’s commitment to increased delivery of more affordable homes each year, recognising that our region suffers severely from the affordability gap between house prices and wage levels."
"We will work together with Government agencies and the Housing Sector and developers to ensure that resources are drawn into the South West, to provide these much-needed homes, right across the region, to help address the affordable housing crisis."
Cllr Julian Johnson, Chair of the Assembly's Regional Transport Board and Assembly Member, said:
"The Assembly has already spent a number of years working on the plan, widely consulting the region and taking on board all the major issues and opinions. We are, therefore, disappointed that much of the good work undertaken has been disregarded in the Secretary of State’s proposals regarding transport, we plan to object to the downgrading of the second strategic route into the region."
Cllr Mike Bawden, Chair the Regional Assembly's Planning Group and Assembly Member, said:
"Underpinning any plan for the region is the provision of infrastructure to support development. The Secretary of State’s proposed changes do not tackle the gap between development and infrastructure and we must have significant additional investment in infrastructure"
Cllr Humphrey Temperley, Vice Chair of the Assembly and Assembly Member, said:
"The original draft submitted by the Assembly was supported by the elected Councillors and nominated regional stakeholders who make up the Assembly. The Secretary of State’s proposals, which includes major additional developments, has not been through a similar democratic process and we are dismayed about some of the changes which have removed the regional distinctiveness of our approach to development."
Christopher Irwin, Chair of the Assembly’s Social, Economic and Environmental Partners and Assembly Member, said:
"The South West's proposals were based on an objective assessment of the potential for sustainable growth. This means economic growth that can be sustained within environmental limits and which enhances environment and social welfare, and avoids greater economic extremes in future."
"We want Government to endorse our call for sustainable construction policies, sufficient affordable housing and investment in the infrastructure throughout the South West."
Assembly Leaders have been in discussion with the Regional Minister Ben Bradshaw, who has offered to help with approaches to other Ministers to get key messages across about the need for investment to support growth in the region.
Notes to Editors
The South West Regional Assembly is a partnership of Councillors from all 51 Local Authorities in the region and representatives of various sectors with a role in the region's economic, social and environmental well-being. The Assembly exists to promote the economic, social and environmental well-being of all who live and work in the region, and lobbies on behalf of the region to achieve a better deal for the South West.