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.
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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.
Some designated ‘Open Gaps’ are under more pressure than others, and with less justification. Land in Upwey, lying between the Dorchester Road housing and Church Street, and bounded on the south by Stottingway Street and to the north by Elwell Street, is a case in point. This is an attractive area of fields, trees and hedges, in the pleasant, ‘sought-after’ environs of the village, where naturally developers would wish to be able to build houses. In the last few years there have been three planning applications for housing, which together cover the whole of the southern part of the Gap:
Land adjacent to Miles Gardens, was refused by the Council, but later allowed on appeal.
Land at Chesterfield Place, off Dorchester Road – a proposal for 18 houses which would fill in an area immediately to the north of this, was refused earlier this year but has been re-applied for, now with one house less. (It may also be noticed that a further area of land north of this is shown as being in the same ownership.)
10 Church Street, a spacious development of seven houses, which would stretch across the gap to the edge of the Miles Gardens site, is also as yet undecided.
We have objected to all of these applications, in view of the importance of retaining the rural nature of the Upwey area.
THE AREA AROUND ASDA
Two sites - the Marsh Road Garages and a plot of land in Weston Road nearby - have together been proposed for redevelopment for flats. While we do not object to the concept, on the assumption that the land will no longer be needed for the present use, in both cases as usual we feel that the proposals are over development of small, tight sites with inadequate car parking. We are not alone in voicing these concerns – in nearly all such situations, local people object, with much justification, at the threatened overcrowding and vehicle congestion in their areas.
HISTORIC BUILDINGS AND ENABLING DEVELOPMENT
An old chestnut in the planning field is the one where the developer buys a historic building with some land attached. One scenario is where a planning application is submitted to restore and convert the building, and develop the land behind for housing. This can often be seen as enabling development, in order to provide funds for the restoration of the important building. The plans are approved, but time goes by and the old building may (or may not) get sold off separately. The new development is begun, while the historic building deteriorates. In due course, the owner of the historic building applies to demolish it and redevelop this last bit of the original site. The local authority is then in a difficult position if it can be proved to be beyond reasonable repair.
8-10 Dorchester Road – Talavera Villas
This is a case where buildings have simply been left to decay, without any plans to restore them. Although not listed, these houses, situated just north of the old Weymouth College (now Cranford House), were once a fine pair of ‘Regency’ villas, part of a handsome line stretching northwards along Dorchester Road to Lodmoor Hill. A planning application was made in 2015 for their demolition and replacement by the apparently inevitable block of apartments. We made a strong objection to the proposals, citing the importance of saving these remaining villas, but permission was granted nevertheless. Now it appears that the site may have been sold off and a much revised set of plans has been submitted, for even more flats. As the principle of redevelopment has now been established, we have not objected to the demolition, but have written to the Council regarding the excessive number of flats, with the blocks too high and overbearing, and lack of adequate parking.
The New Inn, 498 Littlemoor Road.
This attractive building forms the end of a terrace of small cottages dating from the early 19th century, and is given a special mention in Eric Ricketts’ ‘Buildings of Old Weymouth, Part Three’. Permission was first granted at the end of 2015 for the restoration and conversion of the ancient inn, with new housing on the land behind it. Time has gone by, with several planning applications and a change of applicant, and new housing at the rear is being built - but now there are fresh plans to demolish the inn and build a row of three houses. These lack the character and history of the old inn, and not surprisingly we have voiced our opposition to this proposal.
REQUESTS FOR IMPROVEMENTS
While we regularly look at planning applications and comment on the proposals, there are occasions when we draw attention to the poor condition of a historic property, sometimes at the same time as an application, sometimes quite separately. Two recent examples are:
17 Trinity Street – The Old Rooms.
This Grade II listed building is an important part of Weymouth’s history, dating from the Tudor era and one of the few buildings still existing from those times. It formed the original part of Weymouth’s first Assembly Rooms in the mid 18th century, visited by gentry and royalty. But its appearance is shabby, with buddleias sprouting from its eaves and a generally unloved look. We approached the owners Greene King about its condition three years ago, and were encouraged when they submitted an application for work to the building. However, this was not implemented, and it continues in this poor state. They have now again put in a planning application for internal works to it, and we have taken the opportunity to draw attention again to its condition and to express our hope that they will carry out full conservation work to the house. This important building deserves the best treatment to proudly show off this part of Weymouth’s Georgian history.
The old Swan Inn, Dorchester Road, Broadway.
We are also concerned about the historic former Swan Inn on Dorchester Road, which for many years has looked in poor condition. We do not know who owns this property, so have written to the Council – first a few years ago and now again, in the hope that they can approach the owner so that this ancient inn can be restored and once again make an attractive contribution to the local area. We hope that it will be possible to find the owner and that they will then carry out this much-needed work.
LAND NORTH OF LITTLEMOOR ROAD
After three years, the outline planning application for land North of Littlemoor Road has finally been considered and approved by Dorset Council’s Planning Committee. This is for a major development of 500 dwellings, with 8 hectares of employment land, land for a new primary school and a new local centre. The final decision is delegated to the Head of Planning to grant permission subject to completion of a legal agreement, but to refuse if no agreement is completed within 6 months or an agreed time.
We did not make an objection to the principle of developing this land, which has already been allocated in the Local Plan and which would make a substantial contribution to housing provision for our area. However, we were very concerned at the problems that would arise, in particular the severance of the new community from the main part of Littlemoor with its shopping centre and facilities, and the effect on the busy main road of the need for regular pedestrian access across it.
We also had serious concerns at the proposal for retail uses in a broad area of land in the west part of the site, which could further threaten existing shopping centres in the Weymouth area, and the reference to retail/employment uses along the country lane that leads to Bincombe.
The Society is considering the possibility of new commemorative plaques to be placed on buildings or locations of historic interest or special connections. We co-operated with the Borough Council in 1994 in putting up the set of about 20 brown plaques which can be seen around Weymouth town centre, but have not commissioned any more ourselves since then. We are hoping for an information board to be placed at the Ferry Steps, in commemoration of the D-Day embarkations of thousands of American troops from there, but this must wait until next year for the complete rearrangement of that area by the Council. We have a few ideas for new plaques in mind, but would also welcome any suggestions. In view of the expense of metal plaques, numbers will need to be very limited, but we hope that some funding can be obtained from other sources.
The other kind of plaques created under the Society’s auspices are the round blue Annual Award plaques, for the ‘best contribution to the built environment’. We look for high quality new developments or restorations of historic buildings, or other features that make a contribution to the appearance and general quality of the local environment. Full details can be seen on the website, including an archive of information on past awards.
Nominations are now invited for this year’s Annual Awards. The projects nominated should be located in the wider Weymouth and Portland area and should have been completed in the year to October. Suggestions may be made by emailing email@example.com, or writing to -
Weymouth Civic Society, C/o Secretary of the Planning and Environment Committee, 71 Roman Road, Weymouth, DT3 5JH. .