Bridport & West Dorset News, Views, Videos & Curiosities

Dorchester town centre plans submitted. Waitrose to anchor £60 million scheme

A PLANNING application has just been submitted for the controversial £60 million redevelopment of the Charles Street site in Dorchester.

Waitrose has agreed terms to relocate from its current store in Tudor Arcade and is now in detailed discussions with the project’s developer Simons.

Waitrose's current Dorchester branch could be replaced. Photograph copyright Nigel Mykura, reused under Creative Commons licence.

The full application includes a range of new shops comprising over 146,000 sq ft of retail space, a new public car park with 484 spaces, a 60-bedroom hotel, affordable housing, new public toilets, new offices for West Dorset District Council and a proposed new library and adult learning centre for Dorset County Council.

The scheme would bring £60 million of private investment into the area.

Mark Newton, Development Director at Simons said: “The submission of this application is a significant milestone in the history of this project.

“As everyone in Dorchester knows, this site has been earmarked for redevelopment for many years, and now we move one step closer to making this a reality.

“The plans have undergone extensive public consultation, and we were delighted with the amount of people who attended our public exhibition in December and returned our feedback forms.

“We are arranging to set up an information kiosk in Dorchester for people to find out more about the planning application, further details of which will be released shortly.

“We have submitted exciting plans that represent a significant investment in Dorchester, and will create a new retail and leisure destination that will benefit the whole town centre as well as the surrounding area.”

West Dorset District Council Chief Executive David Clarke said: “Receiving this planning application is a landmark step forward for the district council’s plans to enhance the vibrancy and economic well-being of Dorchester town centre.

“The planning application will now be checked and registered. This will take a few days.

“Once the application is registered, people can then come in and view the planning application at the council offices in person, look at them on the council website and submit their views at or visit Simons’ information events.

“The application will be considered by West Dorset District Council’s development control committee following public consultation.

“You can have your say by telling the council what you think of the plans during a consultation period.

“Those that comment will be invited to speak at the development control committee.

If planning permission is granted, work would start on phase one of the scheme early in 2011.

Simons recently won an award for Best Regeneration Partnership for its work with West Oxfordshire District Council on a mixed-use development scheme in Witney.

Editor’s Note: This is a slightly edited version of a press release issued on behalf of Simons. As has been said before on this site, there is sometimes a merit in seeing exactly how businesses and local authorities choose to present their case. They can spend a long, long time thinking how to do so.

Here, four sentences at the top have been condensed into two, and the word “controversial” has been added by me to the first line; here are some links to some other stories and comments to show why.

Dorchester voters reject plan for new district council HQ

Dorchester town centre debate: “Beware West Dorset’s white elephant” 

Dorchester town centre plans move a step closer

(The last link above sets out in some detail arguments for the redevelopment of Dorchester town centre, and includes a West Dorset District Council video)

4 Responses to “Dorchester town centre plans submitted. Waitrose to anchor £60 million scheme”

  1. The Red Bladder

    The wheelbarrow

    I see from one of the ‘briefs’ at the side that the application was delivered in a wheelbarrow. You seem surprised. I cannot for a moment imagine why. What else would you carry manure in?

  2. Incredulous

    The new Waitrose

    Interesting that the press release focuses on Waitrose and not the proposed new offices! Are they are trying to bury the office scheme under the razzmatazz of the Waitrose plans to divert attention away from the main bone of contention?

    The Waitrose scheme still does not justify the building of new WDDC offices at such an enormous cost or make the plan any more acceptable to the electorate!

  3. Claire

    Invest money in public transport instead

    I agree with Incredulous – using Waitrose to ‘spin’ attention off the main bone of contention does not alter the fact that, in these times, spending such a large amount of public money on what amounts to speculation just does not make sense. Let’s make that money count now, not rely on ifs, buts and maybes.

    Dorchester is a growing town, but does it really need another shopping scheme? Shops are of no use to anyone if there are no jobs in the wider community to pay people enough money to have a disposable income to spend in these places. The county is about to embark on a massive shedding of public sector workers, and yet apparently there is money to create new places to spend money that the residents may not have in their pockets for much longer.

    I am sure that a new hotel is called for, but if it were really so, surely a private developer with business savvy would be looking at buildings already in the town? As someone whose business depends rather heavily on visitors and 2nd homers I appreciate that we need to invest in tourism. but why does it have to be the Council to speculate first, with our money?? Surely they should be investing in those of us already living here?

    As a previous report on this site has pointed out, the Council offices part of this scheme could turn out to be a huge white elephant if there is a re-shuffle of how local government is administered; what guarantee can be given that WDDC will still be relevant in 5 years time, let alone 25 years time, when the bill will finally have been paid?

    For my part, I would like to see that kind of a sum invested in public transport links around the county; now that really would get people moving, literally! One the biggest impediments to work in the county, particularly for the young, is the lack of transport links for the larger towns and villages. Money spent on transport could open up job opportunities, which in turn create tax revenues and also make for a more connected county. Just a thought.

  4. Incredulous

    The people of West Dorset are being conned!

    The planning application for Charles Street is about to be published. See for details of how to object which will be posted on the site when the application is published i.e. in the next few days.

    At the Council meeting on Thursday it was stated that yet another ‘consultation’ by Simons is to take place in Tudor Arcade (Waitrose) in Dorchester but no date was given. AGAIN DORCHESTER ONLY! The rest of West Dorset doesn’t exist for WDDC or Simons.

    David Clarke (Chief Executive) has said that the Dorchester Town Poll represented less than 3% of the electorate and would not make any difference to the plan. However, only about 300 people were ‘consulted’ when visiting Stratton House, Glyde Path House and the Housing Advice Centre. Why are the views of this small number taking precedence over the Town Poll? Also, the 300 were not actually asked if they AGREED with new offices being built, but which of three locations was PREFERRED for them (Brewery Square, Charles Street, Poundbury – and Poundbury was qualified as ‘out of town’). This is not ‘like for like’ statistics anyway. There were 9 questions on the questionnaire, only one of which actually mentions new offices – the rest were about their experience of visiting the Council office. The people of West Dorset are being conned!

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