RESIDENTS are being urged to have their say on a planning blueprint that will help shape development in Dorset for the next decade and a half.

A consultation on the draft Dorset Council Local Plan will start in January next year.

Once adopted, the plan will guide decisions on planning applications until 2038.

The document highlights the areas for preferred housing, infrastructure and employment, schools, retail, leisure and other community facilities.

These include requirements for homes in Blandford, Gillingham, Shaftesbury, Sherborne, Stalbridge and Sturminster Newton.

The plan, once adopted, will also strengthen Dorset Council’s position should it decide to decline planning permission for developments falling outside of the preferred options included.

The local plan has identified land across the county for a minimum of 30,481 new homes (1,793 per annum) to be provided over a 17-year period. Land for a minimum of 131 hectares of employment land will also be provided over the plan period.

David Walsh, Dorset Council portfolio holder for planning said: “We are planning for Dorset’s future, for the future of our residents.

“It is so important that we understand everyone’s view on the draft local plan as much as we can.We are working closely with all our stakeholders, our own councillors and town and parish councils to make sure we reach all parts of Dorset.”

The draft Dorset Council Local Plan has used all the information gathered by the former borough and district councils.

Dorset Council spokesman said: “If there isn’t a local plan in place then the ability for Dorset Council to influence the location and character of developments is limited.

“Planning affects the future of Dorset. The council wants to be sure that everybody can be involved in both the preparation of the local plan and decisions on planning applications.

“Involvement of public and stakeholders through the plan making process is important, as it allows local knowledge and expertise to be gathered from a wide range of perspectives.”

The first Dorset Council Local Plan consultation will begin in January 2021 and will last for eight weeks. There will be a further opportunity to comment in late 2021 before the plan is submitted for independent examination and adopted in 2023.

Visit the Dorset Council local plan documents for more.