Page last updated at 16:59 GMT, Wednesday, 21 April 2010 17:59 UK

Green belt homes divide parties in Dorset

Darren Brown, Labour candidate for Mid Dorset and North Poole
Mr Brown supports the strategy which says where homes could be built

A proposal to build thousands of homes on green belt land in part of Dorset has divided candidates in the area.

Mid Dorset and North Poole Conservative candidate Nick King said the regional strategy, which suggests where homes should be built, should be scrapped.

Liberal Democrat Annette Brooke agreed but said the land had originally been earmarked by a Conservative-led council, which now opposes the idea.

Labour's Darren Brown said he supported the strategy for development.

Executive homes

The South West Regional Spatial Strategy suggests the region should accommodate 460,000 new homes before 2026.

Green Belt land around Corfe Mullen, Wimborne and Ferndown has been earmarked for about 2,400 homes in the plan.

Nick King, Conservative candidate for Mid Dorset and North Poole
Mr King said a former naval base could be used for homes

Ms Brooke said: "We have a real issue with needing affordable housing for local young people but I do not believe the way to get yourself out of a housing shortage is to build, build, build because you get executive homes, people buying second homes, especially in a county like Dorset.

"I believe we have to tackle the housing needs within each community, to identify where they think the housing needs to go. We need a bottom-up approach, not top-down.

"All of the houses were proposed to go into the draft plan by East Dorset District Council who then changed their minds, but the examination in public did not accept their reasons to change their minds."

'Old naval base'

Mr King said: "There are perfectly good brown field sites that would be quite suitable for building on but the stumbling block is English Nature who have placed a ban on any development within 400m of heath land.

"At Holton Heath there's an old naval base. It's effectively got lots of buildings on it but they are all crumbling away. There is already a road structure and it's right next to a railway station.

Annette Brooke - Liberal Democrat candidate for Mid Dorset and North Poole
Ms Brooke said she agreed the homes plan should be scrapped

"It's got fantastic public transport links but because this piece of heath land is across the road they cannot do anything with it."

Mr Brown said: "I am in agreement with the strategy. It's a contentious issue but the area does need new housing.

"It's been heavily defended as a green belt but we have a lot of young people in the area who are struggling with house prices and I believe we should support an expansion of development.

"I think we really need to look to the long term sustainability of the area and we cannot turn our back on our young people who will have to leave the area if they have no affordable property to buy."

  • The candidates standing in Mid Dorset and North Poole are: Liberal Democrat: Annette Brooke; Labour: Darren Brown; UK Independence Party: Dave Evans; Conservative: Nick King.

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