District Council vote to redevelop St Michael’s

At a specially convened planning meeting in Dorchester on Thursday 6th July, district councillors on the planning committee voted to accept Hayward & Co’s planning application (8 for, 3 against).¬† With that decision, redevelopment of the Estate in favour of housing looks inevitable.

There were around 25 strong pleas delivered verbally at the meeting to try and persuade councillors to turn it down, but in the face of the Planning Officer’s strong appeal to them that they should accept it, being the best offer they are likely to get, it was almost inevitable that this time the application was going to succeed.

Enterprise St Michael’s are of¬† course disappointed at the outcome, and will be watching closely to see how the outline planning permission is translated into a full planning permisison in weeks to come.

Planning Decision expected 6th July

West Dorset District Council have announced that they will come to a decision on the latest version of Hayward & Co’s application on Thursday 6th July at their offices in Dorchester, starting at 10am.¬† The Planning Officer has issued his report which has come down in favour of the application, for a number of reasons spelt out in the report.¬† Enterprise St Michael’s has yet to study the report in detail and we will decide our response in due course.

It will be important for there to be a show of support from the public so we are encouraging as many Bridport residents as possible to attend the Dorchester planning meeting on 6th July.

Revised Planning Application

Site owners Hayward & Co have revised some of their key documents and re-started the planning clock.¬† The comment period finishes on Friday 16th June – although previous comments will be held valid by the District Council’s Planning Officer, there’s the opportunity to revise them or add new comment.

The main difference is that the cluster of buildings around the Red Brick Cafe is no longer scheduled for housing bringing the proposal down to 48 houses and 44 flats.¬† It’s still a massive over-development of the site with no benefit to the town and Enterprise St Michael’s firmly opposes these plans.

Owners’ Planning Application Hits Delay

In an unexpected move, just after the three-week public comment period closed, the site owners decided to put their planning application on hold so that they could amend some of their plans.  They are expected to resume the process again shortly but there will have to be a new three-week consultation.

The March 2017 consultation drew nearly 300 comments, all but a handful being objections.¬† The District Council’s Planning Officer says that all of these will remain valid once the application process re-starts.

Meanwhile, Bridport Town Council’s planning committee voted by a large majority on 3rd April to oppose the application, with only a Green Party councillor, surprisingly, being in favour of the development.¬† The Town Council can’t determine the outcome – that’s the District Council’s job – but they are an influential consultee in the planning process.

Estate Owners formally apply to redevelop site for housing

St Michael’s owners Hayward & Co have formally submitted their planning application. The public have until 31st March to comment, after which the District Council’s planning officer will weigh up all the evidence and comments and produce his recommendation.

The application (which is split into two, because part of it requires special Listed Building consent) is to build 95 homes on the site, demolishing work units which get in the way.¬† Although profit from the sale of the homes is supposed to finance the repair of the remaining historic buildings, the size of the active part of the Estate will be greatly reduced, and most traders will be restricted to just clean, quiet “office” type occupations.¬† This is a marked step away from the present-day mix of artisans which has made St Michael’s such a success in recent years and Enterprise St Michael’s doubts its long term viability, is concerned about damage to the wider local economy, and fears a loss of tourist trade.

The main planning application is 1/D/11/002012, and the Listed Building one WD/D/16/002853. Both are accessed via the Council’s website dorsetforyou.gov.uk; follow the link to “Application Search” under Planning and Housing.

Public Interest Groups compare notes

Representatives of Bridport Local Area Partnership, Bridport Area Development Trust, local Youth organisations and Enterprise St Michael’s put their heads together in January to compare their feelings about the redevelopment ideas put forward by site owners Hayward & Co.

There was general agreement that if the Trading Estate were developed along the scheme proposed, it would be to the detriment of the businesses on site.  It was felt unacceptable that this change of use should principally benefit the site owners, while not yielding compensating benefits for residents such as genuinely affordable housing or improved access to small, cheap business units for start-up or micro businesses of all types.

Attendees discussed that there are other, apparently viable ways of recovering the Estate’s run down condition without subjecting it to the 95 units of housing proposed, along the lines that Enterprise St Michael’s recommend.

Site owners’ ideas go public

On Thursday 15th December, St Michael’s owners Hayward & Co will explain their ideas for redeveloping the Trading Estate to the public, from 11am to 6pm.¬† Their ideas involve 95 new homes, which if built would reduce work space and restrict types of business to only “quiet” ones since most of the new workspace would be embedded in blocks of flats.

Enterprise St Michael’s encourages shareholders to go along and ask searching questions.

Site owners show revised ideas

In September 2016 St Michael’s owners Hayward & Co began updating interested groups, including Enterprise St Michael’s, with their architects’ new proposals.¬† While we give them credit for some improvements over the 2011 planning application, their new ideas would still impose 51 houses and 44 flats on the Trading Estate with a net loss of 2,000 sq.ft of trading area.¬† Worse, most of the new work units would be tucked underneath flats, and the Planning Officer says that businesses in the redeveloped area would be restricted to office workers or other “quiet” businesses – no shops, noisy or dusty artisan workshops which could cause upset to the new residents.

In our view, once the money from the new housing is spent, the Trading Estate would be worse off than before with reduced size and income, and would dwindle and die.  We have put this view to Haywards.