DEVELOPERS of a Dorchester town centre site are trying to squeeze too many homes onto it – according to some town councillors.

They say the former printing works, off Durngate Street, should to be demolished and have welcomed the design of the new homes – but by a narrow vote agreed that 14 flats is too many and would make the site overcrowded.

Councillors say there are also concerns about the size of some of the units and would welcome more two-bed homes, or less units altogether.

Residents living nearby say they fear increased traffic problems from the redeveloped site which an extra six parking spaces would bring. They told the town council planning committee that Durngate Street already has too much traffic with delivery vehicles using it to get to South Street and other drivers trying to cheat the system by using the lane when they should not.

One High East Street resident, who has a parking space which is off Durngate Street, said he couldn’t see how access would be maintained during the construction phase and was worried about the effect building work might have on other homes in the area, some of which because of their age, were likely to have shallow foundations. He was also worried about the viability of the many small companies in the area: “If they have to close Durngate Street you could kiss goodbye to most of the businesses there. People see a load of scaffolding and they just won’t walk down there,” he said.

He said it was already a frequent sight to see pedestrians squeeze themselves up against the wall to avoid traffic in and out of the street.

There was also criticism that Durngate Street residents had not been formally notified of the development proposals because the planning application had listed only the High East Street address of the application site.

Cllr Stella Jones said she thought the design has a number of good features and welcome small town centre homes but said she believed 12 flats was the maximum for the site – a view which was shared by Cllr Janet Hewitt who said that having too many flats would only cause problems: “There are too many of them and they are too small, this is an overdevelopment of the site,” she said. But other councillors were happy with the number and Cllr Les Fry said he had no problems with basement flats which, he said, was much better than having no home at all.

The narrow site lies between High East Street and Durngate Street within the town’s conservation area and while flats are proposed for former offices within the High East Street building at the front of the site, at least 11 of the flats would be accessed from Durngate Street.

Dorchester councillors say they will ask for the proposal to come before a committee of councillors rather than be decided by a planning officer, as currently proposed.

Comments on the application can be made until January 21st.