Skip to content

Dorsetforyou uses cookies to make the site simpler. Read our cookie policy to find out more or close this message to accept.

Close alert

Dorchester town centre redevelopment

Dorchester’s Wednesday Market

Charter market, Fairfield market, the Wednesday market… whatever you call the market, it has been an important aspect of town life for hundreds of years.

We ran a survey in May 2018 that asked about current opinions on the market, whether respondents shopped there or not. We had 2,145 responses and you can view the report with all the analysis

Dorchester town centre redevelopment

Keeping retailers in Dorchester and making the town a thriving regional shopping centre remains our aim. We are working hard to try to bring forward plans to develop the town centre site and are taking commercial advice.

Councillor Anthony Alford, Leader of West Dorset District Council, said:

We want a scheme that the public can support. We need to deliver the right scheme for residents, businesses, customers and communities. It has to be viable and must be welcomed now and still valued in years to come.

Our vision has always been to make Dorchester a thriving regional shopping destination and we remain committed to keeping retailers in our county town.

Does the town really need this kind of investment?

At present, Dorchester is a thriving town with a good mixture of large and small retailers. To ensure that the town retains its vitality in a changing retail environment we need to protect this mix.

If we do not invest in providing space to meet the changing requirements of larger retailers to remain, then there is a risk that they will leave the town. Were this to happen, the larger number of shoppers they attract will reduce. This would affect the viability of the small shops.

In summary; yes, we do need this kind of investment in the town.

How is the council assessing the historical nature of Dorchester in regards to it's archaeology?

We are aware of the need to consider the town's archaeology.

Any development will be informed by existing studies, as well as the outcome of further investigations. We are doing these in consultation with the Dorset County archaeologist.

What about affordable housing on these sites instead?

Other sites in Dorchester are prioritised for housing. Larger developments with a mix of tenures are either already underway, have planning consent or are allocated in the local plan.

These include:

  • 560 homes at Brewery Square
  • 1,200 homes in the third and fourth phases of development at Poundbury
  • 50 homes at St George's Road
  • 50 homes at Alington Avenue

How will the council communicate with the public?

We are committed to enhancing our communications with the public. This includes regular E-newsletters updating our residents with the latest news.

Engagement events will enable the public to come and talk with our members and officers.

How can parking be managed if two key car parks are built on?

This is a key issue, which is the focus of a transport and parking strategy is being developed by Dorset County Council, West Dorset District Council and Dorchester Town Council. This will review and address the impact of not only these specific sites, but also the wider development of Dorchester. This will include residential sites.

What about smaller independent shops and businesses? Is the council only interested in flagship stores/ big names?

Maintaining the vibrancy of the town centre, with its mix of independents and chains, is of paramount importance. This requires investment in the town to ensure we can retain the larger stores. The footfall they attract helps support the smaller independent shops.

What opportunity will residents have to shape the developments?

The council is committed to having strong public engagement around the future of the town and its development.

Also, for individual sites there will be public consultation as part of the planning process on any schemes that come forward.

Where will the market go?

At the present time, the market will stay at its current Fairfield location. We are looking at ways to enhance it and considering options to achieve this.

We are committed to ensuring a thriving and vibrant market with a regional reputation as a great day out. We are aiming for a market that rivals any town market for quality, value and experience. We know that many shops and cafes in the town centre are passionate about the contribution the market makes to the success of their businesses.

Next steps

We have set-up a working group, which includes councillors from all parties. The working group commissioned GL Hearn to review Dorchester's town centre and how best the site can contribute to its future prosperity. They produced a Development of Dorchester's Town Centre report which discusses commercial development potential.

The latest archaeological review of Charles Street was published in January 2017.  

In February 2017 West Dorset District Council's Executive Committee supported the preparation of a Development Strategy, which will aim to boost the local economy. 

Public engagement event

Tuesday 26 September saw West Dorset District Council host an event. The event began with Strategic Director Martin Hamilton introducing a presentation about the development proposals. This followed with questions from the public to Martin, officers and members as well as Steve Wallis, a local archaeology expert.
See the presentation on development in Dorchester Town Centre.
Please note, this was an engagement event and not a formal public consultation. We are still very much in the early stages of development proposals.

E-newsletter updates

Sign up to our e-newsletter and receive regular updates about the redevelopment of Dorchester's Town Centre.

Rate this page

Have some feedback?

Your feedback

This form is for reporting incorrect website content, technical issues, or general website feedback.

Contact us if you want to get in touch about a council service instead.

All fields are required.

Leave your email address so that we can provide a response.

This helps us direct your feedback to the appropriate council.