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.

Dorset Council’s cabinet agreed to go out to public consultation, which is due to start in January and last eight weeks.

Councillor David Walsh, 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.”

Cllr Walsh stressed “nothing is set in stone” and it was still early in process.

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.”

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.”