Blandford + Securing Social Infrastructure
The story of the ‘Blandford +’ neighbourhood plan – covering the town and two adjoining parishes in Dorset – would make a lengthy novel! Started in 2014 the project aimed to address the uneven distribution and limited capacity of the town’s social infrastructure, which was increasingly causing problems for the community.
We were appointed by the Town Council to find a solution and to help it translate it into meaningful planning policy through the plan. We obtained a clear picture of the social infrastructure problem and worked with land promoters in that part of the town where the deficit was greatest to bring forward proposals for the community to consider. The result was a proposal to deliver a new primary school, businesses, allotments and other uses, as well as 500 new homes that would address the shortfall in housing supply in the area. Crucially, the Councils worked closely with their communities through the long duration of the project to explain the proposals.
The plan was examined (twice!) and had to withstand the scrutiny of AONB interests as the proposals affected land on the edge of an AONB. Our understanding of how plan making law and the ‘basic conditions’ operate was essential in eventually winning over the planning authority and examiner. The plan passed its referendum in May 2021.