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Weymouth Civic Society

Home Activities Planning Awards Tudor H0 Borough Contacts Members

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There has been an enthusiastic response, from the various groups of Friends of the many parks and gardens around the Borough, to our Society’s invitation to take part in celebrations of all the public parks and gardens, as our area’s contribution to National Civic Day on the 17th of June.   The Borough Council is also involved, and there will be activities in the gardens, and trails publicised, while our Society will arrange an exhibition about the Gardens and their history, with information about the work and programmes of all the Friends groups.



This old chestnut has once again turned up in the form of a further application for three houses on the slope above Castle Cove.  There have already been two approvals for three houses on this site, granted in 2012 and 2016.  We have once again put our objections to the Council, reinforced by our dislike of the current design, which would show three double garages across the site frontage, with long and completely plain side walls projecting towards the bay.  We think this design is awkward and unsatisfactory, totally lacking in visual interest, and quite inappropriate on this very sensitive site, which should be an attractive green backdrop to the beauty of the Cove below.  Of course we still have very serious concerns about the instability of the land, as do many local people, and this is even more worrying with the additional planning application for two large houses on the adjacent plot.


There are currently two planning applications for housing on the sites of former schools.  

Thornlow School in Connaught Road is to be demolished but as in so many cases of housing development we are concerned at the density and overall coverage of this very restricted site.  The proposed replacement buildings echo the appearance of the existing tall red-brick buildings packed tightly on the site, but we are afraid that they will have a heavy and overwhelming appearance, sited as they are close to the road, in contrast to the other, fine houses of this Conservation Area.  We also share the concerns of some local people that this area already suffers severe parking congestion connected with Holy Trinity School, which could be exacerbated if insufficient parking provision is made in the layout of the site.

Underhill Junior School on Portland, which sits on the edge of a cliff above Chesil Cove and the grassy terraces of the Chiswell Earthworks, is also to be redeveloped.  We are pleased that the main school building is to be retained and converted, but we have serious reservations about other aspects. The appearance of the proposed houses backing on to this cliff is in our view totally inappropriate to the traditional character of Portland, with a line of high, sharply pointed gables that would show atop the cliff in this important setting to the cove, and with the elevations of the houses being quite out of keeping with the area.  

Many local people, who experience vehicle congestion in this area already, are particularly concerned at the proposed provision for parking, and we also consider that the parking and turning arrangements are awkward and inadequate and could exacerbate the problems already experienced.

The Portland Lodge Hotel on Easton Lane (not to be confused with the Heights Hotel!) is also to be redeveloped with a block of flats.  A previous proposal to convert the existing building to 18 apartments gained approval this month, but the current planning application is for an increase to 24, in a totally new building.

We think the design of the new proposal is an improvement but have reservations as to its size, which at three storeys we consider is too tall and bulky for this particular site, positioned as it is very close to the road in an otherwise rather open area before the main built-up village of Easton.  We also think that there are too many units for this limited site.

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Over recent years we have seen a number of planning applications that the Council has granted for enlargement or replacement of the traditional ‘beach huts’ at Portland Bill at considerably larger sizes.   While the Council has a Beach Huts policy, it appears that it may have limited powers to control the situation adequately to prevent this trend from continuing.  There is a requirement that the huts must not be occupied as accommodation for overnight stays, and yet those of over 5m x 5m area are more spacious than would seem necessary for daytime visits.

Our fear is that if the proportion of larger huts continues to increase, the area could change to something more akin to a holiday chalet site, with the risk that the much-loved character of Portland Bill will be gradually diminished.   Last year the Council approved a large beach hut in a position among the rather special group of huts around the ancient stone building by the crane, and it has now been constructed. This is one which we considered to be excessively large in this very sensitive location - a view shared by others.  We have contacted the Borough Council, Crown Estate and Portland Town Council, who we understand are concerned about the situation.


The fine stone-built Elizabethan house in Trinity Street, situated on the opposite side of the road to the Society’s own Tudor House, has been getting neglected in recent times, to the extent that it has caused some concern locally.  This ancient house is important to Weymouth’s history, having been the residence in 1618 of an early Mayor, Thomas Giear, and later becoming the town’s first Assembly Rooms in the 1760s when a new wing was added at the rear for balls and concerts  - now the Old Rooms Inn.  The whole property is now in the hands of Greene King, who are taking steps to repair the building and make it suitable for a new tenancy.  We had contacted them and the Council about the deteriorating condition of the house last September, and we are pleased to know that refurbishment of this important historic building is now planned.  It is hoped that the works will be sensitive to the character of the house and will thoroughly improve its condition.


This is the round-ended building that sits in an important location by the King’s Statue, curving round into St Thomas Street.  As part of a pair with Statue House it creates a fine setting for the Statue, with which it is contemporary.  However, for the last few years we have felt that the exterior of this historically important building has been looking depressingly shabby.  In the hope that it could at least be refurbished in time for the Olympics, we wrote to the Borough Council, but it still remained in the same condition and has continued so.

Now at last there is a hope that great improvements will take place.  There are plans to use the ground floor for offices, already approved by the Council, and to convert the upper floors to flats, together with full refurbishment of the building.  There is also to be a shop in the unit fronting St Mary Street, which is a part of the same property. (This does not include the part of the building curving into St Mary Street, which is in separate ownership).  It is a pity that the retail use of the main part of the ground floor will cease, but nevertheless the planning proposals give a very promising indication that the Georgian splendour of much of this iconic building will be restored.


We have been invited to respond to an initiative seeking suggestions of well-maintained buildings in the town centre which look good, and others which are ‘in need of a little TLC’.   While this is in its early stages, if any members or others wish to make any suggestions to us in the first place, these could be sent to, or by post to 71 Roman Road, Weymouth, DT3 5JH.  

We should point out that this is not part of our Annual Awards scheme – for which nominations are always welcome and should be sent to the same addresses above.  


The situation with the proposed 340 dwellings on the fields south of Nottington Lane west of Dorchester Road continues to unfold.  The original application was widely objected to by local people and refused by the Council, but this was contrary to the officer’s recommendation of approval.  The developers lodged an appeal, which is still awaiting a decision, but meanwhile they have submitted a further application, the same as the original, which has by now again generated around 100 representations.  Our Society did not object outright, largely because the Local Plan already earmarks this site for large-scale housing.  However, we are still concerned about several matters, including the proposed traffic arrangements for access to this very large site from Nottington Lane, which already has problems.  The proposal to narrow the lane rather than widen it seems to us quite wrong, and we do not like the second access to the site located much further towards the village.

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    April / May 2017

Chesil Cove below the Underhill School site

Sandsfoot Castle Gardens