COUNCILLORS have agreed to spend up to £1.4million on preparatory works for the next phase of Dorchester’s Charles Street scheme.

West Dorset District Council agreed to spend up to £2million on works ahead of the proposed retail phase last October after developers Simons claimed the scheme was unviable in its existing state.

However, after a more detailed look the council’s efficiency scrutiny committee suggested an expenditure of up to £1.4million to cover the majority of works proposed.

These included relocating the Dorchester Family Church from Acland Road to council owned land on Trinity Street, securing pedestrian access through the Tudor and Hardye Arcades, securing other access rights including traffic regulation orders, securing rights of lights and obtaining an electricity supply to the site.

The expenditure was approved by the council’s executive committee at its meeting this afternoon.

Director for environment Dr David Evans told members: “All these works are to help bring forward the site for development.

“None of the payments will go to Simons so the council benefits from having resolved some of the issues concerning the site, which means it’s a lot easier to come forward for development in the future.

“Should Simons not proceed the council of course benefits as it inherits the full site and it will have resolved all these issues.”

Director for resources Jason Vaughan also told members at the meeting that the council had received six unconditional offers and four conditional offers for its previous offices at Stratton House and was now going through the legal stage of looking at the bids.

He said: “It is pleasing to note we have had such healthy interest.”