News

As the Blandford Hill Eco Hub proposals develop over the coming months, we will continue to upload on this website relevant new information and provide project updates.

Update 24 January 2022: Dorset Council approves Blandford Hill Eco Hub:

Naturalis has been granted planning permission for the construction and operation of the proposed Blandford Hill Eco Hub by Dorset Council, bringing new public electric vehicle (EV) charging to Dorset, powered by an adjacent solar farm with battery storage. All Councillors of Dorset Council’s Strategic Planning Committee who were present throughout the committee meeting voted in support of the plans, following their officers’ recommendation for approval.


Matt Partridge, Development Director for the project said: “The Government’s ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars is only a few years away. Electric vehicle sales are already growing rapidly but in order to enable a smooth transition away from cars powered by petrol and diesel, it is widely recognised that a timely roll-out of EV charging infrastructure will be absolutely critical. The Blandford Hill Eco Hub will make an important contribution towards this aim in a rural part of Dorset, where most people rely on their cars, by allowing up to 19 electrical vehicles to charge simultaneously.”

Mr Partridge continued: “Excitingly, the Hub will enable drivers to power up their vehicles with zero-carbon electricity, thanks to the integrated solar farm that will be connected to the car chargers.” 

The proposals enjoyed support from Winterborne Whitechurch Parish Council and from the Dorset LEP. At the committee meeting, Councillors agreed that the plans for the Hub are innovative and, in the words of Cllr Sherry Jespersen, represent “a good example of the planning process working well.”   

The Hub will provide 117 jobs during construction and up to 8 permanent positions when it is operational, mainly for the café and shop facilities, supporting the local economy. The project team will now prepare for the construction stage and it is anticipated that the Blandford Hill Eco Hub will be fully operational by mid- to late-2023, starting its 40-year lifespan. 

Update 17 January 2022: Planning application for Blandford Hill Eco Hub recommended for approval:

Dorset Council's Planning Department is recommending approval of the planning application for the Blandford Hill Eco Hub. The project is set to be determined by the Council's Strategic Planning Committee on Monday 24th January. To have a look at the planning officer's report, please click here (page 61, item 7)

Update 28 July 2021: PLANNING APPLICATION SUBMITTED TO DORSET COUNCIL:

After extensive consultation, detailed site planning, layout and design work, the Naturalis project team has now submitted the planning application for the Blandford Hill Eco Hub proposals to Dorset Council.

The proposals have been refined and improved over the past months to reflect feedback, for example:

  • the proposed café/shop building has been reduced in height from 2 storeys to 1 storey

  • a permissive footpath has been added that links in with a local public rights of way, enabling safe pedestrian access between the village of Winterborne Whitechurch and the eco hub

  • the proposed number of charging points has increased from 12 to 19

  • the proposed battery storage area is now fenced to screen it from view

  • the number of trees and hedges has been increased to boost the ecological benefits of the project and to further screen the eco hub from local views, while helping it blend into its rural surroundings

For our press release on the submission of the plans, please click here. The planning reference for the application is P/FUL/2021/02622 and the submitted documentation can be views on the Council’s Planning Portal.

Update 22nd April 2021: BLANDFORD HILL ECO HUB MARKS WORLD EARTH DAY: Today is Earth Day, observed around the world to celebrate the birth of the environmental movement in 1970 and to create awareness about key environmental issues affecting all of us, such as climate change. This year's theme is "Restore Our Earth", which shines the spotlight on the role that emerging green technologies have to play to restore the world's ecosystems.  

 

Development Director for the Blandford Hill Eco Hub, Matt Partridge, commented: "We have only one planet and we need to ensure it can sustain us. It is important to celebrate Earth Day, to mark the efforts that are taking place globally to live more sustainably and stop depleting our natural resources. The shift away from fossil fuels is a key step. Projects such as the Blandford Hill Eco Hub help make the transition towards clean energy and electric driving a reality."

 

Some more than others, but governments around the globe are stepping up their game. In the United States, President Biden is hosting a world leaders' summit today to discuss what major economies can do more to tackle the climate emergency and to make the most of the economic advantages the change to green technologies can bring. Earlier this week, the UK Government announced their pledge for a law underpinning the target to slash emissions by 78% by 2035.

 

 

For more information on Earth Day, please visit https://www.earthday.org/earth-day-2021/

Update 19th February 2021: Naturalis are to hold an online consultation event on Thursday 4th March 2021 between 5.30pm and 7pm. With restrictions on public gatherings still in place, we will be holding a digital consultation. This online event will provide the opportunity to meet our team, learn about our proposals, ask questions and comment on the plans. The consultation will be held via Zoom and a link to the event will be placed on this website prior to the event. Please join our consultation event and share your views with us. A few days prior to the event, the home page of the project website will provide a button which, when clicked, will connect attendees to the meeting. In addition, we have posted a consultation leaflet to over 1,500 residential and commercial addresses within 5km of the site which provides a feedback form that local residents can use to share their views with us and which can be sent back to us free of charge. A copy of the consultation leaflet can be downloaded from this website.

Update 17th February 2021: Following the submission of our Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) screening request letter to Dorset Council on 29th January 2021. Dorset Council have considered this request and confirmed an Environmental Statement (ES) is not required. A copy of their response letter can be downloaded from this website.

In late January 2021 an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) screening request letter was submitted to Dorset Council. This details the environmental characteristics of the site and has been prepared to help inform the environmental assessments and supporting studies which will be undertaken while development proposals are considered. We expect a response from Dorset Council during February 2021 to confirm if an Environmental Statement (ES) is required.”