CONCERNS have been raised over plans to convert 30 acres of farmland in Talbot Village into a publicly-accessible park.

Talbot Village Trust has applied to BCP Council for permission to designate land at Highmoor Farm as a heathland support area, aimed at reducing pressure on the nearby and protected Talbot Heath.

But the proposal has prompted concerns it could be "the beginning of the end" for the farm and a precursor for the planned business park neighbouring the site.

Similar plans to convert part of the farm had been included in the controversial development of the site first proposed in 2000. These were eventually rejected more than ten years later following an appeal.

The trust has now filed its application to create a heathland support area (HSA) to reduce human pressure on Talbot Heath. 

The site is identified for such a use in the Poole Local Plan which also designates neighbouring land for an "innovation quarter".

Council planning policy says the aim of an HSA is to spread public access to heathland over a wider area.

“The biodiversity of the heath is adversely affected by human pressures, which are caused inadvertently by the use of the area for informal recreation, as well as deliberately through misuse such as arson and fly-tipping,” a statement submitted on behalf of the trust by consultants Intelligent Land says.

“The HSA will provide an alternative area for recreation to divert pressures off the heath, as well as space to support the heath through biodiversity gains.”

It adds there are “partial similarities” to what was proposed in 2000 and that this part of the project was not cited as a reason for the refusal of the overall development.

But the application has already attracted objections, including from Nick Dobbs, an administrator for the Preserve Talbot Heath Facebook group.

He said its primary aim was to facilitate the planned innovation quarter to provide space for businesses and that it would be “the beginning of the end” of the farm.

"The proposed future innovation quarter intends to attract 1,700-plus employees with the very real potential of a significant deleterious impact on Talbot Heath SSSI Nature Reserve," he said.

He added that these impacts had not been properly assessed and called on the council to request a "comprehensive" study of the entirety of the land.

And Dr Mark Houghton, who lives in Dulsie Road, said the application was "disingenuous".

"It is simply turning over farmland left over from the development that is problematic for development, and would be unviable to continue as a farm," he said. "The best way to support the heathland would be to maintain the viability of the farm and maintain its current scale and positive contribution to biodiversity."

Council planning officers will consider the application in the coming months.