RESIDENTS in an East Dorset village have hit out over their “hopelessly inadequate” bus service amid plans to build more than 1,000 extra homes.

Folk in Alderholt have raised concerns over the 97 bus service which runs just three days a week.

It is operated by the charity Dorset Community Transport and connects Ringwood and Fordingbridge via Verwood and Cranborne. It is currently the only bus route serving Alderholt and has been described as a “lifeline for residents without access to a car”.

In 2017, county council funding for the service was slashed, however, a group of councils led by Alderholt Parish Council came together to fund the route, and a new timetable has been introduced.

Now residents say with plans to build more than 1,000 new homes in the village, the lack of regular public transport links will put more pressure on the use of cars on "narrow local lanes".

To make their feelings known, residents gathered outside the bus stop on Windsor Way on Saturday, February 2, in snowy weather along with a skeleton sat in a fold-up chair wearing a woolly hat and scarf while holding a hot water bottle to reflect the village's skeleton bus service.

Jo Anderson said: "With the first pick up at 9.30am and the last return journey at 2.10pm, it’s hopelessly inadequate as a service for commuters."

"East Dorset District Council's local plan states that development will be focused on areas accessible by different modes of transport, but many in Alderholt say they are concerned that their location will lead to an even greater reliance on cars."

She said at a meeting organised by residents’ group Action4Alderholt, concerns were expressed over the village's "ability to cope with the extra traffic generated by another 1,000 to 2,400 homes, and the knock-on effect on Fordingbridge and surrounding villages such as Harbridge, Damerham, Rockbourne and Cranborne".

Resident Dave Tooke said: “Time is running out to oppose this development.

"Our fear is that East Dorset District Council will rush to push these proposals through before the new unitary authority takes over in April.”

Lynda King, development management manager at Christchurch and East Dorset Councils said: “When identifying land for development, the provision of infrastructure is a key factor which the Local Planning Authority would take into account.

“In areas where there is evidence of a shortfall in existing services, for example in the current public transport offer, the Local Planning Authority would include in the development plan a requirement for the provision of the infrastructure improvements that have been identified as necessary to bring forward development. The expectation would then be that these would be secured through a legal agreement as part of the planning application process.”