writes Josh Wright

A FORMER chicken farm in Okeford Fitzpaine, Dorset, can now be redeveloped into 45 homes.

Dozens of people had written in support of Warwickshire-based Lone Star Land’s scheme for the former Faccenda Food site.

And Dorset Council has now granted planning permission for the redevelopment of the disused land off Shillingstone Lane.

The site had been part of Faccenda’s poultry operations in the village, housing chicken sheds and a car park, until the business closed in 2007. Submitted in March 2018, the application proposed 40 per cent of the homes would be ‘affordable’ while a new drop-off area for the primary school would also be created.

It had been due for a decision by North Dorset District Council shortly before its abolition early last year with a recommendation being put to councillors that permission be refused. But councillors agreed to defer a decision to allow concerns about the impact the development would have on the listed Downs Cottage to be looked at.

In a report published at the time, the council’s conservation officer said the planned removal of hedges and widening of Shillingstone Lane would have caused harm. But since then amended plans have been put forward, scrapping the proposal to widen the road which in turn allows the hedgerow outside the cottage to be kept.

Following this, the application was approved by Dorset Council planning officer Clare McCarthy last month.

Clare's report said: “The proposed development would cause harm to both heritage assets [the cottage and Okeford Fitzpaine conservation area].

“However, the harm is significantly reduced because of the revised access arrangements showing retention of the historic character of the land.”

The application was supported through a 40-signature petition as well as separately by 22 people who wrote to the council backing the development.

Nine letters of objection were submitted.

The decision follows the approval of two housing schemes for a total of 54 homes by the council last year.

Originally published in the Bournemouth Echo

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