AN ONLINE petition against the demolition of North Dorset District Council’s former headquarters at Nordon in Salisbury Road has gathered nearly 1200 signatures in just over two weeks.
The petition at Change.org (http://chng.it/HsY95YLwpr) is to Dorset Council from Blandford & District Civic Society, and outlines the history of North Dorset District Council’s decision, a month before going out of existence, to give outline approve for the demolition and redevelopment of the site in Blandford’s Conservation Area with 40 affordable homes.
It has been drawn up by a group of objectors to the outline approval, which had at the time of going to press not yet been signed off by the council but which is expected to be followed by a detailed application by Aster Homes, the council’s ‘preferred bidder’.
The group includes retired architect and former town Mayor John Turnbull and other Civic society representatives, former Mayor of Blandford Roger Carter, and neighbours to the site Chris and Deborah Williamson and Mike and Maureen Field.
They say: “A petition on its own cannot prevent the development going ahead, but we do want to let Dorset Council know how angry the local community is at the decision, and the way it was made.”
The petition follows a lengthy investigation into a complaint made by Mr Turnbull in November 2017 against North Dorset District Council to the Information Commissioner’s Office.
Dorset Council – as the successor authority – was on 22 July given 28 days to appeal against the Information Commissioner’s decision that it had 35 days to disclose previously withheld information on the preferred bid for the disposal and development of the site.
On August 18 the council released the unredacted document submitted to the Nordon Project Board in May 2017 as a confidential item which contained further information about the Aster and competing bids and the existence of a covenant imposed by the original landowner the Viscount Portman restricting the amount of development on the site.
The petition states: “This petition is NOT against the provision of truly affordable homes, which could be and are being provided elsewhere, but IS against the loss of a notable property of considerable historic interest together with its grounds – a ‘green lung’ and haven for wildlife in the midst of other residential development -
It describes the council’s secret plans for disposal of the site with no public consultation until the application was made in August 2018, and highlights that only eight of the homes will be rentable and that development will mean the removal of over half the woodland on the site.
A hard copy of the petition is available to sign at the Blandford Town Museum, open daily barring Wednesday from 10am to 4pm, for those without internet access.
The former North Dorset District Council headquarters, Nordon