By Alex Cutler @dorsetechoalex

A campaign opposing a proposed development of 3,500 homes to the north of Dorchester has stepped up a gear.

One of the preferred options in West Dorset’s local plan is to build 3,500 new homes on land to the north of Dorchester. The group called Save The Area North of Dorchester (STAND) was organised to oppose this, and has now produced a leaflet asking people to help save this "timeless land."

Members will be at the Dorset County Show this weekend to spread their campaign message.

STAND has previously organised a protest march against the proposal and has also set up a petition that has amassed more than 2,800 signatures in favour of rejecting this area as a proposed site for future development in the local plan.

The new leaflet, which will be handed out by the group at the county show, has been created by the group to outline what could be lost if this area of land is built on.

The leaflet highlights three different walks people can take through the area of proposed development land.

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One of these walks highlights natural sights that the group says are "threatened" by plans to build 3,500 homes there. STAND claims endangered species, ancient trees and the climate will be affected by any development here.

The second walk showcases ancient archaeological sites, such as Bronze Age barrows, that could be damaged.

Finally, the leaflet turns its attention to the damage that could be done to Hardy's historic Dorchester.

It says: "Our tourist industry will be damaged. Visitors come from around the world to discover Casterbridge and the countryside around it.

"Dorchester’s character as a town embedded within its countryside would be dramatically and irrevocably changed."

Oran, 20, from Dorchester, was impressed by the leaflet.

He said: “I’ve always loved the closeness of the countryside and having read the leaflet I’m shocked at the scale of the proposed development.

"We need to protect these sites and keep future generations connected with the natural world. We also need affordable homes that allow younger people to stay in the area.”

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STAND is keen to stress that it is not against providing affordable homes for those most in need, but argues that there are viable alternatives on brownfield sites that should be first considered.

"The impact on our roads, hospital service and on Dorchester as a tourist destination would be enormously damaging and irreversible," a STAND spokesman said.

"Please come and find us when you are at the county show, on some of the actual pasture land which is under threat of development. We'll be handing out our leaflets and asking people to sign our petition."

Cllr Peter Wharf, Deputy Leader of Dorset Council said: "The bid is for progressing work on the potential development site north of Dorchester, which was one of the development site options included in the public consultation on the West Dorset, Weymouth & Portland Local Plan review, in the summer of 2018.

"The site north of Dorchester was identified in policy DOR15 of the consultation documents, for around 3,500 homes (including 35% affordable housing) together with employment land, schools, a nature reserve and community facilities."

Originally published in Dorset Echo