A NEW public open space has opened in Swanage as part of the town's latest housing development.

The 5.6-hectare Washpond Natural Greenspace, which features walkways, scenic viewpoints and even a 'dog beach', is part of the Barratt Homes' Compass Point development which is taking shape off Washpond Lane.

Dorset Council cabinet member for planning Cllr David Walsh said: "This is an important addition to the open space within Swanage that is available and accessible to all.

"It will also help alleviate the impacts of new residential development on the nearby protected heathlands and other habitats.”

Work started on the housing development earlier in the summer.

More than 130 people objected to the scheme in its planning stages, but others have welcomed the new housing.

When finished the 8.41-hectare development will boast 90 new homes – a mix of three and four-bedroomed properties.

Jon Green, managing director at Barratt Homes, said: “We’re thrilled to be able to open up this natural green space for the entire community in Swanage.

"It has got some fantastic coastal views and we know people are going to love spending time there, whether they’re getting active outdoors or simply relaxing and soaking up the view."

The site, which had no previous planning history, was comprised of agricultural fields or parts of fields adjacent to the former grammar school campus.

Swanage Town Council offered no objection in principle to development of the area for new homes, but did raise concerns over road safety.

Complaints were lodged by neighbours, residents and the local branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

A report from Purbeck District Council (PDC) case officer Andrew Collins, which went before the then PDC planning committee in 2018 before members debated the issue, recommended granting permission for the scheme.

Mr Collins' report detailed how developers wanted to construct six one-bedroomed homes, 32 two-bedroomed homes, 39 three-bedroomed homes and 13 four-bedroomed homes.

Of these, 45 would be sold on the open market, with 45 designated as 'affordable'.