THE ANNUAL AWARDS
After a long delay because of the Covid situation, the Society’s Annual Awards Evening will take place on Tuesday 17th May, for the presentation of all the Award Certificates and Commendations for the period 2020-2021.
The two main award plaques for 2020 and 2021 were presented last December. The list of all the projects awarded can be seen on the Awards page of this site.
Land at Newton’s Road (Bincleaves site) -
Up to 189 Dwellings, a 65-bed Care Home, Leisure, Employment etc.
The most important application in this period has been for the old Bincleaves site, now cleared of buildings. This major development proposal took much of our attention, and we registered a very strong objection. In our view, the height, at up to seven storeys, is overbearing and grossly excessive. It is totally out of keeping with its setting, jutting out from the coastline on the waterfront between the Nothe Gardens/ Newton’s Cove and the wooded shoreline running westwards towards Sandsfoot. Unfortunately there have already been two approvals for major development of this site, but in our view this is the worst.
We cannot see how it could conform to the Local Plan, on a number of grounds, including the very high proportion of apartments, as well as some houses, when the Local Plan specifies an alternative employment use appropriate to a maritime location or otherwise a mixed use to provide community benefits. In our view it utterly fails to comply with the policy statement that an emphasis on good quality design is essential, or that it should be appropriate to its waterside location.
The aspect which has caused most controversy is the effect of all the additional traffic that would be generated by the development on the local road system. Boot Hill is a notoriously polluted road, caused by the volume of heavy traffic on this important through route, while the only other access via Hope Square and the harbourside is totally unsuitable for excess traffic, being one-way only, and very much in a pedestrian area with outdoor seating taking up parts of the space.
Land West of Putton Lane, Chickerell – Erection of Three Dwellings.
We are pleased that this application, dating from late 2020, has finally been refused. The site is a small, narrow paddock, surrounded by mature hedges, just north of Bennetts Water Gardens. We made a strong objection to the original proposal for five dwellings, and eventually this was reduced to three.
We were concerned that the site lies across an important open gap between Chickerell and the built-up areas of Weymouth, which is a designated Wildlife Corridor; moreover, there is a very clear Development Boundary separating Chickerell from this area of open land, and there seems no justification in breaching it, which might lead to further pressure on it. The refusal was on broadly similar grounds, particularly the wildlife aspects, including reference to Great Crested Newts.
93 Lanehouse Rocks Road – Erect 9 Dwellings with Access into Curtis Fields.
Permission has been granted for this housing development, which includes a new access into the very large residential area of Curtis Fields.
We had objected strongly to the previous proposal for the access to be at the steepest part of the hill leading up to Wyke, on this major route to Portland, which could result in serious air pollution from heavy vehicles having to slow down or stop.
While we, and many local people, have concerns at the traffic implications of this new proposal, in the built-up area lower down, it now enables that previous controversial scheme to be abandoned.
WEYMOUTH RAILWAY STATION FORECOURT
We have always had strong reservations about this complete revamp of the station forecourt area, the huge costs incurred, and the disruption during the works, for a scheme which in our view will make only very marginal improvements at best.
We are, however, pleased to see that existing trees, which to our disappointment were to be cut down, have been retained in the new layout, in addition to new tree planting. Let us hope that the new conditions will enable them to survive and flourish.
CUSTOM HOUSE QUAY
At the time of writing, the works to Custom House Quay are largely complete, and it does open up the area for greater enjoyment by pedestrians. It appears that the contraflow cycle lane, which we had strong concerns about, has been abandoned, but other aspects of the scheme to which we drew attention have not been improved.
These include the location of the two parking spaces for disabled people next to the wall of the old Cargo Stage, where they have no direct access to any pedestrian walkway. Also, the whole of the landward side of Custom House Quay is cordoned off, allowing no loading bays or passing spaces on this side of the road where all the hospitality venues are located.
The highly controversial harbourside railings, likened to scaffolding poles, are still in situ, with no apparent move to either remove or replace them with suitable railings for this important area. At the time of writing, the final surface treatment is unfinished. This may have a major effect on the whole appearance of the area, and needs to be attractive and appropriate to the location.
LOCAL LIST OF HERITAGE ASSETS
The period for nominating Heritage Assets expired in mid March, and the Council’s advisors and Conservation Officers will be assessing the results. This is a major task for them, covering the whole of Dorset. It became apparent to us that the majority of those buildings or other assets of special worth are already fully listed, or in Conservations Areas, or highlighted in Neighbourhood Plans; the organisers suggested that these could well be excluded, as they are already given particular recognition. Accordingly our own Committee have nominated a small number of buildings, with other nominations coming from the Society membership. There are also some broader areas which we feel deserve consideration for some special recognition but have not been individually nominated. There may be a long time before all the material submitted throughout Dorset has been sifted through and final decisions taken.
THE PLANNING BILL
It is reported that the infamous Planning Bill has been scrapped. We made a very detailed objection to its precursor, the Planning White Paper, which would have shaken up the planning system to its roots, and which we felt would do serious damage to the ability to control unsuitable development. There was a nationwide furore, with 44,000 responses to the consultation, including strong opposition from MPs. One of the more contentious proposals was for all land to be classified for either growth, renewal or protection - a vast over-simplification, which it was feared would prevent communities from objecting to development in their areas. Another was the mandatory housing targets to be set for local authorities, which we felt could result in far more housing required to be built than is suitable or necessary. This latest news is a great relief, though how it will all play out in the future is yet to be seen.