PROPOSALS by Gleeson Strategic Land Limited for 30 homes on land at Catherine’s Well, Milton Abbas, have been dismissed at appeal by the Planning Inspectorate.

The application was refused by Dorset Council in August last year after being amended from an original plan for up to 58 homes in February that year, and the subsequent appeal was decided on July 16 after a hearing on May 17 and 18.

The site, outside but adjacent to the village settlement boundary, was considered but rejected in favour of three other sites in the Milton Abbas Neighbourhood Plan which was formally incorporated into the Dorset Local Plan on June 26.

Planning inspector S Harley found that while the public benefits, including 40 per cent affordable housing, out-weighed the less than substantial harm to heritage assets, the adverse impact of allowing the proposal, which conflicted with the Neighbourhood Plan, would significantly outweigh the benefits even given the recent poor record of housing delivery in the North Dorset area.

Planning inspector S Harley said of the setting back of some of houses from the road with greenspace and extra planting: “Neither this in itself, nor the open spaces along two of the other boundaries or the retained paddocks, are sufficient to demonstrate that the houses themselves are arranged in other than a suburban estate like layout, somewhat randomly placed in a field.

“It does not reflect the historic character of properties nestled within the landscape within or adjacent to woodlands or the unique rural quality of the more recent developments.”

The Springhead Mill building with its damaged roof, pictured from the lake



AN APPEAL has been launched to repair the roof of the historic mill building at the Springhead Trust so that the charity can continue to welcome visitors to their environmental and arts centre in Fontmell Magna.

The listed mill building is the hub of all their activities, but the roof is leaking, and its chimneys, gutters and other features are in urgent need of repair.

Nearly two thirds of the restoration costs totalling £79,000 have already been raised and the trustees have now launched an appeal for local people and businesses to help raise the shortfall.

The Trust conserves its historic buildings and gardens as a special place for education, enjoyment of the arts, music and rural culture.

Director Edward Park said the mill building provide space for school and community groups to meet, for indoor concerts, talks and exhibitions, for catering and for weddings.

“All these activities are at risk if we can’t repair the roof.”

Funding has been secured from the Historic Houses Foundation and Dorset Council’s Capital Leverage Fund, Historic England’s Covid 19 Emergency Heritage at Risk Response Fund and the Valentine Charitable Trust but additional funds are needed to complete the work.

Mr Parker said: “We are keen to carry out everything at once, to take advantage of the building being scaffolded, save time and reduce disruption.’

“We are applying for further grants but would also be hugely grateful to anyone who can make a donation, however small.”

Anyone able to contribute to the appeal can do so via


MORE than 20 private gardens will be open to the public in Blandford’s Hidden Gardens event on Sunday September 5, which is being organised this year by the Blandford Environmental Trust.

It is the 13th year that home-owners have been invited to take part in the event, which since it was launched by Stour Rotary in 2009 has raised over £20,000 for local and national charities.

In the past it has been held in June, and was last year cancelled due to the pandemic. This year, to be on the safe side amongst continuing restrictions earlier in the year, it was put back to September.

Tickets allowing entry to all the gardens went on sale in the middle of August, and will be available on the day from the TIC in West Street, the Town Museum, from DAG in Nightingale Court where day hire of scooter and wheelchairs will be available, and from participating gardens, where many of the home-owners are additionally offering refreshments and plants for sale.

Funds raised from ticket sales will be shared between local charities and causes, and funds raised from other sales and donations go to the charity of the home-owner’s choice




AMATEUR theatre, just like the professional variety, may have been thrown off the stage for the last 18 months, but there are signs of its revival, not least in plans for the coming season’s village pantomimes.

Madcap Productions in Ansty have announced the start of rehearsals of their rendition of Aladdin in December, and Spetisbury Occasional Dramatic Society (SODS for short) is preparing to relaunch next month with a view to presenting a show over two weekends in January and February next year.

SODS have been running as an informal and friendly AmDram group for more than 30 years, and usually put on three annual productions in Spetisbury Village hall – the pantomime, SODs in Summer, and a harvest supper entertainment in late September.

Those in the three villages of Spetisbury, Charlton Marshall and Blandford St Mary and beyond are being invited to register their interest at a meeting in Spetisbury village hall on September 8 at 7.30pm to discuss their plans and welcome anyone who would like to help with stage management (props, scenery, make-up, costumes, sounds, lighting), front of house, selling tickets, publicity, running the bar or playing a part on stage.

For more information contact Lynne Nicholls (07594 517554 and or Mark Cheesley (07734 113911 and