Weymouth Civic Society
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Planning and Environment Committee
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THE DORSET COUNCIL LOCAL PLAN CONSULTATION
These important draft plans and policies for the Dorset Council area until 2038 are out on consultation, with a deadline of the 15th March. Our Committee are considering a response on behalf of the Society, and of course we therefore have to take an overall view for the whole of our area. All are welcome to contact us about any aspect of it, but we hope members will also offer their own views to the Council. These plans once finally approved form the basis both for new development proposals and for planning decisions, and thus can affect us all in very serious ways.
By far the largest development proposed in the whole plan is the huge site north of Dorchester. In the Weymouth, Chickerell and Portland areas there are just two main new sites proposed, further to the already large tracts of land with planning applications ongoing or with permission granted. These two are: one at Redlands Farm, west of Dorchester Road, (named in the Plan as ‘Land South of Wey Valley’); and the other west of Southill and at the rear of the Police Station. A gypsy site is also planned, on the road south of Nottington, in part of a field directly opposite the former riding stables which are now being developed for holiday cottages.
Something which if implemented will affect most if not all of us all is the set of ‘suitable small sites’ also listed for potential development, again mainly housing, which would appear to involve the loss of a number of public car parks in the town centre and around. They are all to be found in Appendix 3 to this Dorset Council Local Plan and marked on the Local Plan Consultation map as SHLAA sites under ‘BETA Planning Applications’.
These include Harbourside, Cosens Quay (the Loop), Governors Lane, the Bowling Alley and part of Melcombe Regis car park; also the Station, the Council Offices site and Newberry Gardens car park at the rear of Brewers Quay. These losses would be additional to the envisaged removal of the Custom House Quay parking spaces, possible removal of the Westham Bridge spaces (Masterplan, p. 12), and the ultimate development of the Pavilion forecourt and peninsula car parks, where in the most recently seen plans the limited car parking provided would not be intended for general use for the town centre and beach. All food for thought.
CUSTOM HOUSE QUAY
There is clearly a wide range of views on the Council’s plans for Custom House Quay, on which they have been consulting the public. As we cannot represent all of our members’ opinions, we have tried to highlight some issues and areas of concern. First and foremost, this is a working harbour, and we believe that the interests of the fishermen and other harbour users are of overriding importance.
The current proposals are more moderate than full pedestrianisation, and the experience last summer when Custom House Quay was closed indicated that it is a valuable route out of town for traffic, relieving congestion on the Esplanade. Strong concern has been expressed about the proposed contra-flow cycle lane and its potential danger to cyclists and pedestrians. A wider harbourside walkway could be of benefit and improve safety, but it should be kept clear for pedestrians and should not become an additional sitting-out area. We hope that the extra space to be created on Custom House Quay will not contribute any further to the known problems of anti-social behaviour.
THE COUNCIL OFFICES AND BOWLING ALLEY
The Council’s consultation on these two sites has run concurrently with the one for Custom House Quay, and again we cannot easily speak for the whole Society when members’ opinions vary between widely different approaches. Whatever is decided, the design and character must respect the context of this important historic harbourside area. The plans shown, which gained outline permission in 2016, were to re-create the original North Quay frontage and the old High Street running behind that - an idea that has a good deal of support - though the details were certainly different from the historic originals.
We have some concerns at the way the building frontages in these plans are brought much further forward over North Quay than the present Council Offices building, and rise to four storeys with gables, resulting in overshadowing.
As to traffic, we feel strongly that the present two-way system on North Quay must be maintained, to provide proper access for important parts of the town centre and South Harbourside. The loss of the Council Offices car park, as envisaged in the Pentreath plans, is a cause for serious concern, as it is needed to support local businesses, organisations and residents.
CASTLE COVE – STABILISATION WORKS ON LAND BETWEEN 23 AND 27 OLD CASTLE ROAD
Our long-standing deep concerns about the whole proposed development for three houses on this unstable hillside have been reported in the Echo recently, now that there has been a fresh planning application. This proposes deep piling down into bedrock for the three houses, with ‘stone filled counterfort drains’ across the whole slope below them to improve stability, covered with fill, held back by gabions at the toe, which would rise to over four metres as seen from the cove, it seems, topped by a high boundary fence.
What a change this and the three large modern angular houses will all wreak on this lovely hidden cove surrounded by leafy slopes. For years we had highlighted the instability of the site and the risk of serious consequences if the land were disturbed. Our fears were realised all too soon - one of the more disastrous aspects has indeed been the land slippage, threatening the very existence of Old Castle Road at this point and potentially cutting off access to all the area of houses, Castle gardens and sailing centre beyond it. It of course hoped that the proposed stabilisation works will succeed, but at what cost to this pretty cove.
The Old Fish Market, Custom House Quay (Weyfish).
The final stage of the planning applications for various works proposed for this very special small building came to a conclusion late last year, with permission granted for the use of the upper floor for a restaurant – ‘Catch at the Old Fish Market’. Work has been proceeding to create the new dining space, with plans to open in the summer. We had supported the owners in this major project to restore and extend the use of this historic building, which we hope will all contribute to its maintenance into the future. (WP/19/00947/FUL).
Royal Manor Arts College, Portland - Up to 98 Dwellings.
A major housing development on the site of the former school, which will have a big impact on the Portland scene at Weston, has now been approved by the Council, provided that a Section 106 agreement can be completed. We had hoped that they would only build on the southern half where the school buildings are, in line with plans shown to the public in an earlier consultation.
Instead almost the whole length of the site is now to be developed. This will result in the delightful terrace of vernacular cottages which fringe the open space, not far from St George’s Church, being almost totally obscured from view, with their setting destroyed. There was a special plea from Albion Stone for the scheme to be at least delayed, to enable the precious stone beneath to be extracted, but it seems to no avail. (WP/19/00919/OUT)
Site in Weston Road, Weymouth (behind ASDA) – 14 Flats.
Some planning applications do take a long time before a decision is finally taken by the Council. This was first applied for in June 2019, and Royal Manor Arts College in November 2019. We were not alone in our concern, among other things, at the overbearing effect that the two tall blocks of flats proposed would have on the adjacent Garibaldi Row - an attractive small terrace of cottages, and we are pleased that permission has now been refused by the Council. (WP/19/00479/OUT)
96 and 98 Buxton Road – Proposal for Ten Houses.
This is an example of the trend for site cramming (see our July/August 2020 News) – in this case a pair of semi-detached houses replaced by ten houses – five across the frontage, giving a densely urban look, and five in the back garden. Disappointingly, the planning appeal has now been allowed by an Inspector, following the Council’s refusal of permission. (WP/19/01013/FUL)
Icen Lane, 5 Houses (WD/D/20/000321) and
Martleaves House, Wyke Regis - 4 Dwellings (WP/19/00827/OUT)
In contrast, appeal decisions on both these planning applications have supported the Council’s refusals of permission and our own and other people’s objections (see May/June 2020 News). Both were for houses on land just outside the development boundaries, encroaching into the open land of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Heritage Coast respectively. Now in both cases the Planning Inspectors have dismissed the appeals.
The New Inn, 498 Littlemoor Road.
The story of the former New Inn has taken a further step in its progression from a small local historic inn with its car park, to becoming part of a housing site. It is now over five years since the first planning application to convert the pub and develop at the rear was submitted. While this should in our view have been ‘enabling development’ to allow for the restoration of the old Inn building, this was not to be, and it continued to deteriorate while the housing development took place.
Finally permission has been granted for all its frontage to be pulled down and rebuilt, completing the demolition of the whole building. We must now hope that the resulting replica will look attractive in its setting, even though it will not be the original historic inn.
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