DORSET planners have unanimously approved a 280-home estate south of Gillingham town centre.

The Ham Farm development, to the west of Shaftesbury Road, will link in with other, adjacent sites, eventually bringing almost a thousand new homes.

A hundred of the homes at Ham Farm, 36per cent, will be classed as affordable, half for rent and half shared ownership, a mixture of  three-bed terraced and semi-detached homes with a range of two and single-bed apartments.

The site will also have 90 three-bed open market homes in a mix of detached, semi-detached and terraced; 47 four-bed; 24 five-bed, 12 two bed in a mix of apartments and 6 one-bed apartments.

Dorset Council’s northern area planning committee heard on Tuesday that if Homes England finance was approved an extra 79 affordable homes could eventually be added across the five phases of the Gillingham development.

The southern housing extension to the town has been widely consulted on over several years with developments at Lodden Lakes underway and a new main road for the area nearing completion with a combined pedestrian and cycle route.

Several formal and informal recreation areas are proposed in the now approved phase two, including a kick-about area.

Other phases will bring a new leisure centre, a cut-price national supermarket and a petrol station with a convenience store.

An application for 634 homes, including a primary school, has recently been submitted to Dorset Council while a development of 108 homes already has approval to the south of the Ham Farm site with another 152 in the planning stage to the west and south.

The developers will be expected to make financial contributions to public facilities in the wider areas including the town library and leisure centre, schools and a GP practice, as well as contributions to new bus services.

Gillingham councillor Belinda Ridout proposed accepting the 280-home development at the Northern area planning committee.

She said the phase was “another piece in the jigsaw” to strategic housing for the area and was being welcomed in and around the town.

“It has been widely consulted on and we have the public behind it,” she said.

Fellow councillor for the area Val Pothecary said several changes had been made in response to previous comments, resulting in what she described as “a really good design.”

Dorchester councillor Les Fry also welcome the development but said he was disappointed not to see solar panels and rainwater recovery systems for the homes from the outset.

He described the lack of these features as “disappointing” – although accepting that new residents could retrofit the energy measures, at their own expense, at a later date.

“If we don’t help ourselves who else is going to make a difference,” he said, asking that the energy measures were considered at the outset in later phases.

Illustration – Site location Illustration – Masterplan for the Ham Farm development – showing other proposed and already agreed developments.

Illustration – Housing types