PLANS which could see Alderholt “expanded significantly” have been mooted in Dorset Council’s vision for the future.

Two options for the future development of the village are being put forward in the council’s draft local plan for 2021 to 2038.

Option one is for a “small-scale expansion” on land north of Ringwood Road with around 300 new homes as well as land for employment facilities.

The second is for “significant expansion”, which the plan says “could be delivered through a series of sustainable urban extensions reflecting ‘garden village principles’, with land to the north of Ringwood Road being developed as a first phase”.

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

The Dorset Council’s cabinet agreed to go out to public consultation during a meeting on Tuesday, which is due to start in January of next year.

Councillor David Walsh, the portfolio holder for planning, said: “Having an up-to-date local plan in place is critical because without one our influence over the character and location of development in our area is very much limited. Having a plan is essential in order to shape the future of Dorset Council area, provide for development to meet an area’s need and manage decisions on planning applications.

“Public consultation is a vital part of this process and this consultation will enable a wide range of views to be taken into account in moving the plan forward.”

The consultation will run over eight weeks starting in mid January.

Cllr Walsh stressed “nothing is set in stone” and it was still early in process and added “the council will be free to make as many changes as are necessary following the assessment of the consultation responses and any further evidence”.

Councillor David Tooke, who serves Cranborne and Alderholt, said “detailed discussions” were needed as the proposals were “radically different”.

He said: “We need a rather more detailed look at what the options are being proposed for Alderholt because they are radically different between 300 houses on one hand or possibly 190 if you take what’s given and no more, or 3,000 and make us bigger than Shaftesbury on the the other.”

Cllr Walsh said: “The whole point of this is so we can issue more detail but there isn’t that much detail coming forward with this because this is a consultation. We are asking people a question. We are asking them whether they would like a smaller development of 300 or go larger with 3,000.

“There will be more detail coming with it but please remember nothing is set in stone.

“When we have the consultation responses we can make changes to the plan. We are not doing things to anybody - this is democratic process.”

He said “everyone in Dorset had a say” on the proposals for their area and that it was “not fact yet” and was still consultation asking people what they want to see done.

The draft plan proposals sparked concerns during a meeting of Fordingbridge Town Council last week over the impact on traffic for the town.

Hampshire County councillor for Fordingbridge, who also is a New Forest District councillor, Edward Heron said the option for a larger number of homes will have “significant transport implications” for Fordingbridge and the council would be responding to the consultation over implications for traffic”.

Councillor Mike Jackson said that “it impacts on us quite highly” adding: “We are already in a bad transport position and that will just make it worse.”

A statement from Dorset Council following the Dorset Council cabinet meeting said: “The numbers used by Cllr David Walsh in cabinet were examples to promote discussion. The current draft Dorset Council Local Plan is asking people to consider the option of small or large scale developments at Alderholt.

“Previously, East Dorset District proposed between 1,000 and 2,000 homes at Alderholt due to its relatively unconstrained location and that it is outside of the green belt. However, there are no employment opportunities at the village, limited other services and the road infrastructure is of a rural nature so not suitable for significant increases in traffic. Any significant growth in this area would see a continuation of unsustainable travel patterns with residents commuting long distances to nearby towns (Salisbury, Southampton, Bournemouth, Ringwood) for work with increased reliance on car travel

“Any development at Alderholt would need to address these issues and the current level of growth suggested by the developer are unlikely to be sufficient to satisfactorily achieve this. So, the level of growth would need to be sufficient to transform Alderholt and the surrounding area to create a ‘new town’. There would need to be improvements to the road network as well as employment opportunities and increase in the provision of facilities. This is likely to need a joint approach with New Forest District and include development within their area.

“We want the views of local people and businesses as well as the development industry to respond and to highlight what issues there are that would need to be addressed and how these could be tackled.”

Alderholt Parish Council chairman, Councillor Adrian Hibberd said: “Alderholt Parish Council are very keen to be involved at the beginning of the Dorset Council Local Plan Options consultation. This is an excellent opportunity for the residents of the Parish to shape the future of Alderholt and we encourage all residents to let Alderholt Parish Council know their views on the proposed options.”

To view the draft plan go to dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/dorset-local-plan