Chairman’s Report 2018/19

2018/19 has been yet another busy year for the parish council. The last year has thrown up some big issues – with the biggest of these being the issue of development pressures, with both planning applications to deal with, and concerns over the emerging local plan. No doubt this will be the biggest topic for the coming years.

The parish council and residents took a strong position against the speculative proposals on the Strawberry Fields for 120 houses. After a concerted effort by residents and the parish council the application was dismissed, and an appeal followed. The parish council objected to the proposals at the appeal which is due to resume in the summer. Whatever the final outcome every effort was made to highlight the negative impacts of this proposal.

A further phase of the Charminster Farm development by Wyatt Homes has been submitted for a further 52 homes at the back of the site, adjacent to Wanchard lane. This application gained permission despite concerns over the access for further development from Weir View.

Meanwhile the local plan preparation continues with a further round of public consultation held in the summer of 2018. The outcome still remains unclear after initial support from the district council to the proposals north of Dorchester, now that the existing councils have been replaced by a unitary authority, Dorset Council

Highway issues have always been high on the parish and village agenda and the last 12 months have been no different to normal. After many years of lobbying and discussion the county council have come forward with a proposal for a community led 20mph speed limit zones in two areas of the village. However, the proposals seem incredibly difficult to bring to fruition.

Whilst talking of incredibly difficult I need to mention the North Street Footway and the cycleway between Charminster and Charlton Down. Taking the latter first this scheme has foundered over finding an agreeable route at the Charlton Down end of the proposal.

The North street footpath, where the parish council bought a strip of land has been equally frustrating. Whilst Dorset Council have agreed to create the footway, they have passed the responsibility of getting planning permission back to the parish council. After considerable delays and toing and froing planning permission has been agreed. Now the council have requested the parish council commission the works and Dorset Council will pay for them.

A new SID has been purchased with solar panels and community speedwatch is now operating in several areas of the parish.

The parish council has been actively supporting local organisations with donations to:

Village Hall, St Mary’s School, Scout Group, Guides (and brownies and rainbows), and Women’s Refuge spending a total of £2,300.

Things having been ticking over well at Charlton Down with the well supported bench dedication on Remembrance Sunday and the apple pressing in the orchard.

All these things have been achieved whilst keeping strong bank balances despite now having significant assets to manage. By careful management we have ensured our parish precept remains at an affordable level – quite an achievement.

My report wouldn’t be complete with a mention of the new community hall which has been rising from the ground over the last year. A working party has been formed to take on the management and complete the installation of the final equipment. No doubt this will be a big part of 2019/2020.

Finally, a big thank you to our elected representatives for their efforts to enhance the village as a place to live, and to the clerk/financial officer for their hard. And also particular thanks to members who have stood on the council and stood down in the last year.

We now look forward to the coming year and all it brings.

Mark Simons

Chairman

May 2019