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Weymouth Civic Society

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WEYMOUTH CIVIC SOCIETY

PLANNING AND ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE NEWS    November / December 2016


ANNUAL AWARDS


One of our main activities each autumn is considering nominations for the Annual Awards.  This year there were two major projects, which in the end took first and second place.  The Annual Award and Plaque were presented to McCarthy & Stone for Harbour Lights Court, the development of retirement apartments on North Quay, which has so greatly transformed this corner of the Inner Harbour area.   It is designed ingeniously to echo the character of the old harbourside houses while incorporating within its walls all the normal apartments and facilities.  Runners-up with a Certificate of Merit were Betterment Properties for ‘Windmills’ - a fine new housing development in Easton, Portland, clad in render and Portland stone, with two handsome tower features, in reference to the two ancient windmills nearby.  The full illustrated list and descriptions of projects awarded can be seen on our 2016 Awards page.


COUNCIL OFFICES SITE


The alarm sparked off by the plans of the new owners of the former Council Offices has been well documented -  they had hoped to use the government’s recently instituted exemption from the need for planning permission to change from offices to residential use.  A full 56 flats were proposed within the one building, with only 19 parking spaces.  We were greatly relieved when the Council sought legal advice, which concluded that the Council Offices are ‘sui generis’, ie. they do not fall within the ‘office’ use class, and therefore do need planning permission.  


The Council itself had originally proposed and approved a scheme for the site which would have followed on from McCarthy & Stone’s ‘Harbour Lights Court’ development, completing a virtual re-creation of the North Quay frontage and ancient High Street of Old Weymouth, which had been demolished in the 1960s.  However, this scheme was not tied to the sale of the property, so the only way the Council can control the future of this site is through the normal planning process.  We must now await whatever comes next in this new saga.


PAVILION PENINSULA


Having received an invitation for the Society to be represented at a meeting to discuss the future of the Pavilion Peninsula, we were surprised to find that this meeting was just for the Civic Society alone.  So our three representatives were able to make a range of comments on the plans, which have now been put to the Council’s Management Committee in much the same form.  


We were pleased that the theatre is to be retained, that no high-rise housing is proposed, and that much of the scheme comprises indoor leisure uses, which are so lacking in the town.  Car parking is also to be provided – though in much shorter supply than at present.  There is space for marine-related use on the harbour side and water sports at the end of the pier.  Landscaping of the theatre forecourt should improve its appearance, but we expressed concern at the lack of parking space here: – some is now to be provided to the south of the theatre.  A major new proposal - for the road access to be to the south of the theatre, thus allowing for a wide pedestrianised space to be created on the north side facing the beach and bay - is in line with our own suggested layout proposed several years ago.  There is some concern about the external appearance of the very large leisure complex. We have not yet examined the full set of proposals as a group, so will be making our formal comments in due course at the public consultation stage.  



LANSDOWNE VILLA

Plans for development in the back garden of Lansdowne Villa in Rodwell have been a bone of contention since 2002.  Finally the Council gave permission for four houses this year.  We had had grave misgivings that the new development would take place leaving the fine Villa itself unrestored, or converted to flats with inadequate parking space, or used as an HMO (multiple occupancy).  But having recently been invited to look around the Villa, our members were very pleased to see it fully restored as a substantial family home, with the landscaping of the garden complete and the four houses under construction.  


PLAISTERS LANE, SUTTON POYNTZ  

As ever, we keep seeing new applications for housing on sites where earlier applications have been refused permission.  In this case twelve houses were proposed last year on the east side of Plaisters Lane, all along the frontage of an open field, blocking off the splendid views towards the hills.  The Society (and very many others) objected strongly, and the Council refused the application.  An appeal was lodged with the Secretary of State, and the outcome of that is still awaited.  

Now there is a fresh application for eight houses on the southern part of the field - this time in a vernacular, more cottagey style.  It does not, however, address the basic unsuitability of any development at all on this land, which has three major protective designations - Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Conservation Area, and land outside the defined Development Boundary.  We have therefore written to the Council maintaining our strong objections.


BARRODENE


The proposal for two houses in the back garden of ‘Barrodene’, Grosvenor Road, last referred to in the July/August ‘News’, has for the second time been refused by the Council.  It was the same as the original application except for a new arboricultural report.  The reasons again relate to the trees on and around the property, which create such constraints on the layout that there would be a risk of pressure to cut them down in the future if permission were granted for the two houses.


NEWTONS ROAD CAR PARK


The outline application for 12 flats and 6 houses on the Newtons Road car park, first submitted two years ago, finally gained planning permission this November.  We had expressed strong concerns at the loss of this valuable car park.  Now, in December, there is a full application – for the 18 units, but in a somewhat different layout and with fewer parking spaces for residents – only one for each unit.  With the outline permission now granted, we shall at this stage only be able to comment on the details of this proposal, not the basic problem of the loss of public car parking.


LOCAL PLAN

It was only last autumn that the Local Plan, including extensive housing sites, was finally approved after years of preparation.  Now the Council has embarked on preparing a Local Plan Review, with yet more ‘development’ sites suggested.  Draft plans put to the Councillors in advance of public consultation include land at Upwey between the railway and the Relief Road, west of Redlands near the Wey Valley, Preston at Wyke Oliver Farm, Southill west of the housing area, and Chickerell around Budmouth College;  and on Portland - Weston Street, Avalanche Road and south of Southwell.  These are major sites, totalling over 1,000 dwellings in Weymouth, 100 in Chickerell and 280 on Portland.  More on this in due course!