New homes plan refused for derelict town centre building

·2-min read
The former Gibbs & Dandy site has been closed since September 2020
The former Gibbs & Dandy site has been closed since September 2020

A TOWN centre builders’ merchant site in Dorchester will remain empty – after Dorset Council rejected a second housing proposal.

It has turned down an application for sixteen flats in a four-storey block on the approach road to the town’s west rail station.

The former Gibbs & Dandy site has been closed since September 2020 when it was claimed it would have cost more than £1million to bring the depot up to date.

Since then Dorset Council has rejected an application for nine serviced apartments for two former warehouse buildings further along Maumbury Road. They would have been used for short-term lets, including Air BnB.

Now the council has also turned down the larger, 16-flat proposal, which would have include space for a shop and/or office on the ground floor, saying it is too big and out of character with the Conservation Area.

The application for 16 flats had won the support of Dorchester town councillors – who pointed out the site has flats directly opposite on either side of the road junction of a similar size.

The application included the creation of nine parking spaces where there were none before, with electric vehicle charge points.

The company had planned to demolish the existing single-storey building and create 8 one-bed flats, 6 two-bed and 2 three-bed over four storeys.

An existing warehouse to the rear of the site would be retained as part of the scheme and converted to first floor homes.

Said the application to Dorset Council: “The scheme has been carefully conceived to make best use of this brownfield site in this highly sustainable location, being particularly mindful of the opportunity to enhance the character and appearance of the conservation area, as well as the setting of nearby listed buildings. It has also been designed to fully respect neighbouring properties.”

The document explained how the new block would be better than the existing dilapidated buildings at a prominent junction in the town close to the town centre and the West rail station. It said the new block had been designed to follow the curve of the corner site.

Dorset Council officers were unable to support the application, its urban design officer concluding: “Current proposals do not demonstrate that the design has been based on an understanding or appreciation of the local character and does not enhance local identity and distinctiveness. While the stepped approach in the height of the building reduces its monolithic appearance and assists in providing a better relationship to the scale of the warehouse building, the overall height is still considered to be too great within the context of the area.”

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