Members discuss planning issues at the monthly meetings, and each month the Planning and Environment Committee meet to review recent planning applications and other planning matters. They also consider follow up actions which may be taken on behalf of members. The notes are prepared and edited by Brenda Pickett.
Editions from the past 12 months may be viewed via the buttons on the left.
Policies & Plans For information about local planning policies and to review the local strategic plan and planning policies, follow the links below which take you direct to the relevant pages of the local authority website.
We spend much of the year examining and commenting on planning applications, largely in the form of objections or suggestions for improvement. It is a sad reflection of modern times that nearly all the larger schemes we see are in our view overdevelopment, squeezing too many houses on to too small sites, with minimal amenity space and inadequate parking provision. Our comments on these are our ‘brickbats’.
On the other hand, we do also see some proposals which clearly appear likely to improve their local environment, and for which we may write to the Council in support. Generally speaking, our major ‘bouquets’ come at this ‘Annual Awards’ season, when the Society’s Planning and Environment Committee spends some time looking at and debating various recommended projects for the awards.
The number of new schemes considered worthy of full awards has tended to decrease gradually over the years, but there have been good examples of refurbishment work which can make an enormous contribution to the look of their neighbourhood. The whole Annual Awards process is not concluded until the Awards Evening on the 18th November, from which point all the decisions are made public.
PORTLAND NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN
As with all local plans, the Portland Neighbourhood Plan has to go through various stages before it is finally adopted. Having responded to an earlier draft, we have now commented on the ‘Submission Document’. It is fundamentally the same as the draft, so our views have not changed, and as before we have particularly supported the many policies to protect the rich heritage of historic buildings and landscape. This is the document for formal examination, before a final decision is taken and the plan adopted.
UPDATES, WITHDRAWALS AND LONG TERM SITUATIONS
There have been several cases recently where planning applications that were controversial and aroused local opposition have been withdrawn by the applicants – an unusual situation. One of these is the former Thornlow School on Connaught Road, which has seen three different proposals – the first withdrawn and the second approved. The third, reported in our May-June ‘News’, to which the Society and many local people objected, has now also been withdrawn. This is a very welcome decision, and if a further application is made at some time, we hope that its design will be less over-bearing and that it will include sufficient parking to avoid increasing pressure on an already congested location.
There are many other examples of the more significant development proposals dragging on for months or years, with various stages, before a final decision is reached and the development occurs (or occasionally does not occur at all because permission is never granted). The following are three current examples.
Land at Chesterfield Place, Upwey – Appeal Direct to Inspectorate.
Where the local authority has failed to determine an application within the statutory period, or negotiate an extension of time for determination, applicants have the right of appeal to the Planning Inspectorate, which will then make the final decision. This has happened in the case of land at Chesterfield Place, situated in the Upwey Open Gap at the rear of Dorchester Road houses. There have been two planning applications on the site, which have aroused much local opposition. The first was refused. With the second application, for 17 houses, to which we objected, the applicant used this procedure and lodged an appeal before the Council had made its decision. Now all the representations, including the Council’s, go direct to the Inspectorate, who will take the conclusive decision.
Weymouth Pavilion Peninsula.
The Peninsula development was approved by the former Borough Council on 28th November last year, but this has not progressed to a formal planning permission. The only works so far have been for strengthening the harbour walls, with demolition of buildings and plans for some improvements. Now we hear that the entire Peninsula project is under review by the new Dorset Council, though there seems to be no suggestion that any significant changes to the plans can be expected. While we had supported some proposals, especially for a walkway around the whole peninsula, we had a range of concerns, in particular about the proposed ‘pub with rooms’ by the Ferry Steps, and the severe lack of car parking for so many proposed uses, as well as the theatre.
Council Offices, North Quay.
This is another project apparently up in the air again. After several years and a number of different phases, the future of this site is still unknown, with the new Dorset Council wishing to review the whole situation, and all aspects again in question, including whether or not the building should be demolished at all. We have responded all the way, through various phases, hoping for a satisfactory outcome for this highly significant site, and will continue to do so. Now, with a new twist again, we read that unsolicited offers have been made by developers to buy the site, so are we back to Square One?
D-DAY AND THE FERRY STEPS
Our last issue reported on the plans for an information board to be placed at the Ferry Steps by Weymouth Harbour commemorating the thousands of American troops who embarked there for France on and after D-Day 1944.
The engineering works to this part of the harbourside are now under way, including demolishing the small red-brick building, and there is hope for a pleasant, open area to be created, where the new board can be placed.
Meanwhile an initiative has been taken to mark this momentous event in the precise location by the Ferry Steps where embarkation took place, with a plaque placed by Derek Luckhurst (owner of the D-Day Centre at Castletown, Portland) on the wall of the Roundhouse opposite, where the GIs waited to board the vessels, explaining ‘Many of them inscribed their names or initials on this wall using their bayonet. For many, this would be their final parting message.’
THE WAY FORWARD
The future direction of the Society’s work is to be debated on the 5th November (Pilgrim House, Hope Square, 10 am to 12.30 pm). The aspects to be covered include the work of the Planning and Environment Committee, and how we go about influencing decisions. More on this may be expected in the next Planning News.