Dorset Council received over £16.7m from developer contributions in the last financial year according to recently released documents.
Section 106 agreements, along with the newer Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), are legal financial agreements between a council and a developer to help ensure large construction projects fund infrastructure improvements for existing and new communities.
The level of funding is calculated to provide additional infrastructure, such as schools, health facilities and the transport network, and in many instances, the money funds the provision of new facilities.
Dorset Council has favoured larger developments over smaller extensions of existing villages in its draft Local Plan, as strategic development concentrated in selected areas can have greater benefits: the planning permission for Gillingham’s Southern Extension, comprising around 1,800 new homes, will generate £23.8m in developer contributions alone in future years.
The North Dorchester Consortium, formed of Charles Church and Grainger, is proposing to create 3,500 homes north of Dorchester at the North Dorchester Garden Community, on land which has been identified as a location for strategic development in several of Dorset Council’s draft Local Plans, including the current draft Plan.
A spokesperson for the Consortium commented: “Bringing development together helps unlock far-reaching infrastructure improvements, which is not possible where development is spread around in small pockets with multiple landowners. For example, North Dorchester will have the critical mass to support schools, a doctor’s surgery, and footpath and road improvements. The clearest example is a new link road connecting the A37 and A35 to the north of the town to relieve traffic on the Southern Bypass and on Dorchester’s High Street. As the Consortium controls all the land needed, the link road could be delivered seamlessly as part of the construction of the North Dorchester Garden Community or funded through our developer contributions. Whichever way, it serves to create an additional benefit for the area that wouldn’t otherwise come about if smaller pockets of housing was proposed.”
Dorset Council’s Infrastructure Funding Statement shows that a total of £16,709,048 was received from developers in the 2021/22 period. Section 106 funding can be pooled over time to provide Dorset Council with more meaningful sums of money. In West Dorset for example, just over £4m has been allocated towards education but not yet spent. Overall, the total amount of Section 106 money allocated by Dorset Council but not spent for the monitoring year 2021/22 was £38.3m.
The importance of developer contributions to fund infrastructure improvements across England has been identified by the Local Government Association (LGA), which calculates that developer contributions fund an estimated £7billion worth of improvements each year to transport links, schools and GP surgeries, and bring forward more affordable housing.
Improved homes, infrastructure and services are vitally important reasons for communities to permit local housing development, says the (LGA), which represents local councils in England.
Development of the North Dorchester Garden Community will help fund a new three tier education campus to relieve pressure on the existing schools. Furthermore, the Consortium has already held discussions to increase access to health practitioners locally and a new medical centre is planned within the development.
In addition, a new visitor centre with café will take pride of place in a new, 200-acre Frome Valley Country Park and nature reserve, opening up the area for the enjoyment of the community to boost health and wellbeing.
People interested in receiving the latest information regarding progress of the North Dorchester Garden Community can register their interest on the Consortium’s website (www.northdorchester.org.uk) and also undertake a survey to share their aspirations for the development.
Source: Dorset Council’s Infrastructure Funding Statement, Monitoring Year 2021/22
Accompanying image: Plan from the North Dorchester Consortium showing the proposed Link Road.
Press Contact: Rowena Collins or Steve Jolly at Marengo Communications
The North Dorchester Consortium has released more information about the the proposed Frome Valley Country Park and nature reserve, which would form a key part of the North Dorchester Garden Community if the development is given the go-ahead.
Covering 200 acres, the new country park will be nearly seven times the size of the Great Field at Poundbury, giving public access to land which is currently private and inaccessible.
Contrary to some reports, the water meadows are not being developed upon. Instead, a new nature reserve to protect existing wetland habitats for wildlife will be created in this area and a new, sustainable urban drainage system will help to manage water levels.
The North Dorchester Consortium, formed of Grainger and Charles Church, is supporting Dorset Council’s proposal to create a new neighbourhood on the northern edge of the County Town.
A spokesperson for the North Dorchester Consortium commented: “The proposals for the new Frome Valley Country Park are still in the early stages, but the objective is to work with natural processes to allow more ecology to flourish in and around the river. A network of accessible pathways or broadwalks for walkers, cyclists, wheelchairs, pushchairs and mobility scooters could be created with benches for picnics. These paths would connect both sides of the water meadows. A new park next to the water meadows would provide open space to throw and kick a ball around as well as have play equipment for children. ”
A new visitor centre with café will take pride of place in the heart of the Frome Valley Country Park. Called the Frome Valley Park Pavillion, this new building will showcase the history of the Frome Valley and it is hoped it will become a focal point for local walking and cycling trails, bringing the water meadows into the Hardy Trail and linking up Charminster so its Hardy connections can be appreciated. Wheelchair accessible café and toilet facilities are likely to be provided within this new building, creating an attractive new social hub for the town.
The plans for the North Dorchester Garden Community also provide for a new three tier education campus to relieve pressure on the oversubscribed schools in the area, along with a new medical centre.
A new link road created between the A37 and A35 to the north of the town would help relieve traffic on the southern bypass and on Dorchester’s High Street.
The 3,500 proposed new homes in the North Dorchester Garden Community would be a mixture of affordable housing for purchase and rent, along with private homes, helping to meet the significant housing need identified in Dorchester, particularly for those looking to get on the housing ladder for the first time.
The developers have ambitions to create one new job for every house planned, from employment associated with the construction over several years, as well as the provision of a new business park to provide modern business space.
Press Contact: Rowena Collins or Steve Jolly at Marengo Communications