FULL details of plans for almost 30,500 new homes in Dorset have emerged in the county's Local Plan - which has been slammed as 'rushed and inadequate' by campaigners.

Residents are being urged to share their views in one of the most important surveys in a generation for the county. But a campaign group claims residents will not have time to digest the information in hundreds of pages of documents before the consultation ends.

The Government has said 30,481 new homes must be built in Dorset by 2038 - around 1,793 each year.

Residents have until March 15 to share their views on where the homes should be built, and which areas should be protected from developments.

The area with the second-largest share of new developments is South Eastern Dorset – including Blandford, Swanage, Wareham, Ferndown, Verwood, West Moors and Wimborne Minster – with around 7,544 new homes are proposed - including on protected green belt areas.

The largest proportion of new house building will be allocated across Dorchester, Weymouth, Chickerell, and surrounding areas, which fall within the Central Dorset geographical area - including proposals for Dorset's largest new housing development of around 4,000 homes on historic countryside north of Dorchester.

In Northern Dorset (Gillingham, Shaftesbury, Sherborne and surrounding areas) 4,389 new homes are proposed - including a 1,800 home expansion of Gillingham.

Calls have been made by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) for Dorset Council to challenge the Government's house building targets, which the group says are "way in excess of local housing need".

They claim the Local Plan is 'rushed and inadequate' - and that residents will not have the time or inclination to digest the information it contains before the consultation ends.

The CPRE also says the proposed developments are presented as a done deal, and that residents should instead be given a range of options to choose from.

Peter Bowyer, CPRE's chair of trustees, said: "Dorset CPRE calls upon Dorset Council to think again. Revisit the timetable and documents. Take a new approach to both. Lay firmer foundations for the processes of the Dorset Local Plan. Do this now by providing the community with real opportunities to contribute to the future of their county.”

Meanwhile, the council says it has taken a number of factors into consideration - including nearby jobs, and facilities, such as hospitals, schools and town centres. Around 131 hectares of new employment land are also proposed.

The Government has set a target of 30,500 new homes in the Dorset Council area by 2038.

The council has categorised potential development land into three tiers - with tier one being classed as most suitable for large developments.

The tier one areas are Upton, Corfe Mullen, Weymouth and Dorchester.

Tier two areas are also considered to be suitable locations for growth. There are eighteen in total including Gillingham, Sherborne, Shaftesbury, Blandford, Swanage, Ferndown/West Parley, St Leonards/St Ives,Verwood, Wareham, West Moors and Wimborne/Colehill.

Around 51 larger Dorset villages have been designated as tier three, meaning they are suitable for some growth - most notably, developments have been proposed at Alderholt, Charlton Down, Charminster, Crossways/Moreton, Lytchett Matravers, Sturminster Marshall, and Wool/East Burton.

No villages in the Northern Dorset and Western Dorset areas have been identified for potential development.

Council bosses insist major efforts have been made to ensure everyone can have their say on the Local Plan.

Cllr David Walsh, Dorset Council Portfolio Holder for planning, said: "There has been nothing 'rushed' about the drafting of the Plan, which was published in December and will take until 2023 to be fully adopted. The eight-week long consultation has also been thoroughly considered and planned for over the last year.

"Unfortunately, we cannot wait for things to get back to normal or for planning changes to be implemented as we would not then have a Local Plan in place, meaning we’d have less influence over where development happens in Dorset. We have consulted with parish and town councils and have met (virtually) with many organisations, including the CPRE.

"We have drawn upon work carried out in previous local plans because considerable progress had been made, not to mention that residents had already fed into that process. But we have updated this work, considered previous proposals in the new context of a larger geographical area and included new information and projections for Dorset where appropriate.

"The plan itself is around 600 pages long out of necessity as it covers a range of technical issues across a very wide and diverse area. We are not expecting many people to read the whole thing, so we have specifically designed the survey so that respondents only need to read and comment on the parts they are interested in.

"We are required by central government to plan for the housing target calculated using their standard approach. If we don’t plan to meet these targets, we are required to demonstrate exceptional circumstances. We appreciate that the CPRE by its very nature will question this need to build housing, but we must ensure that Dorset residents have places to live and work – especially young people – and our local economy is able to support those who already live here.

"This is a true consultation for the draft Local Plan and, because of the pandemic, we are doing more than we ever have before to publicise and support the consultation to ensure as many people as possible can have their say."

To have your say visit Dorset Council's website - where you will also find webinars and podcasts about the proposals: www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/dorset-council-local-plan.aspx