The high street – physical presence with digital reach.

Dorchester Chamber for Business members heard from Executive Director of Place at Dorset Council John Sellgren at the 14 June breakfast.

John gave an overview of the current strategies including news that the Council had received a better than anticipated settlement meaning no service reductions are expected.

Regeneration is a key priority and John was pleased that a deal has been struck with the NHS to take over South walks House removing the cost of maintaining the empty building from the tax payer.  He also touched on projects in Weymouth including Weymouth peninsula and the possibility of a ferry service returning which has been publicised widely in the media.

It was clear from the presentation that the Dorset Innovation Park is a key driver for future investment both public and private, John mentioned how impressed he is personally with the new facilities.

The Council is keen to push for levelling up money with ongoing discussions taking place. Digital Dorset is an imperative project for both the town of Dorchester but also outlying villages.  John also stressed the importance of the towns heritage and tourism.

The much debated local plan discussions rumble on with the Council restricted by the limits of current legislation and the need for affordable housing, including the controversial garden settlement North of Dorchester.

One key theme to emerge from the presentation is that towns need to embrace the business need for a physical presence with digital reach.  Our high streets will be different with more people living in town centres and the Covid recovery funding is assisting this move.

Closing with thoughts on the Counties climate and ecological sustainability John made reference to the poor power supply to many parts of the County, including property they have sold for development.  For the area to expand and flourish the Council and residents will need to think courageously around grid power for homes and businesses especially with the growth in electric vehicles that will need charging.

The presentation was followed by a question and answer session with a number of points raised by Dorchester Chamber for Business members.

If you are not a member, or are a former member who would like to re-engage please see Join Us – Dorchester Chamber for Business

Pic: Dorchester Chamber for Business President Peter Greenaway (left) Vice President Steve Bulley (middle) Dorset Council Executive Director of Place John Sellgren (left)

Dorchester Chamber for Business

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