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.
A third planning application has been submitted to the Council for the redevelopment of this group of school buildings, the first having been withdrawn and the second approved. This new proposal is for 12 flats with 10 parking spaces, and a substantial house. As before, we have objected to what seems to us heavy overdevelopment on a very limited site with little space for landscaping. We stressed the need for adequate provision of parking spaces in this already congested area, and suggested that if as planned the buildings are to be almost totally demolished, it would be better for the appearance to be more sympathetic to the local Conservation Area, with its rather fine Victorian villas in light buff brick. Both the Council’s Conservation Officer and its Urban Design consultee have expressed similar views on the design of the buildings and do not consider that the application details as they are at present should be approved. As yet there has been no decision.
LAND TO THE EAST OF 61 BOWLEAZE COVEWAY
At the very end of the line of houses that cover the brow of the hill on the way to Bowleaze Cove is an open grassland area sloping down to the Cove. Now there is a planning application to place ten ‘beach hut lodges’ – each large enough for six people to stay in – on a part of this open space beyond the last house. This seems to us a most unwelcome proposal, encroaching into the open land that forms an important gap, which has been preserved as the last area of green space between the group of houses and the holiday development in the valley beyond, and we have made our objections to the new Council.
MAIDEN STREET METHODIST CHURCH
Another plan has been devised for developing the burnt-out shell of Maiden Street Methodist Church. The broad concept has already previously been approved – that was to raise a metal-clad structure above the surviving brick walls and create 15 flats and a ground floor restaurant. In this new application the number of flats is increased further to 25, which, not surprisingly, we consider to be too many and too small, especially in this historic building. As the restoration of the façade is most important to this proposal, we have stressed that this must be carried out very carefully. The approved plans proposed the use of copper for the roof and upper floors, which would weather to a bright green that we feared would stand out most starkly above the harbourside buildings in the lovely views from the south side. This time the proposal is for dark grey zinc – not the most attractive material, but at least a more suitable colour.
84 Wyke Road
Dorset Council has refused the planning application for a new house at 84 Wyke Road, which endorses our own strong objection to it. This was to replace an existing house in this pleasant suburban neighbourhood with a building of starkly contrasting ‘modern’ character, with multiple elements, its 3-storey front section projecting well forward of the other nearby houses and dominating the scene. The Council’s refusal notice states that it would have an adverse impact on the area, being unduly prominent, contrary to the established character of the area, and would not respect the local distinctiveness.
Former Information Centre, the Esplanade
Permission has now been granted for the conversion of this building (formally titled the Beach Control Office) to public conveniences. Our strong concerns about this centred on the prospect of fifteen WC cubicles opening outwards directly on to the main promenade, along the seaward side of the building, potentially causing numerous problems. In this particular location we strongly recommended a conventional arrangement with internal facilities in an enclosed space out of the wind and rain, which would not obstruct the promenade at this narrowed point. Our fears were echoed by a number of the Dorset Council’s Committee members in their debate on the application, but in the end they agreed to approve it.
One good thing in particular came out of this. We were able to meet with the new Town Clerk of Weymouth Town Council, Jane Biscombe, and her Deputy, Matthew Ryan, to explain our concerns. While we did not agree on this particular issue, it was an opportunity for us all to debate a range of local topics, and to outline the work and interests of the Society and the new Town Council, with plans for future contact on matters of mutual concern.
53 Rodwell Road
The ongoing saga of 53 Rodwell Road, and the proposal to demolish this house at the junction of Rodwell Road and Rodwell Avenue and erect a block of six apartments, continues. The applicant has now lost his second appeal. This follows the refusal of planning permission by the Council for the proposed development which it, as well as local people and our own Society, all objected to as overdevelopment and out of character with the surroundings.
Nevertheless, the Inspector again refused to agree with this, and his only reason for dismissing the appeal was on grounds of the adverse effect on the living conditions of the neighbouring property. On the contrary, he concluded that it would not cause unacceptable harm to the character and appearance of the area, and found it acceptable in its ‘scale, footprint, materials and overall design appearance’.
As a consequence the appellant has been awarded partial costs against the Council for its ‘unreasonable’ behaviour in making the wrong reason for refusal – it had ‘acted unreasonably by persisting in objections to a scheme which an Inspector had previously indicated to be acceptable’!
Plot X1 and X2, Mulberry Avenue, Portland
The two proposed business units on a site abutting the ‘Memorial Garden’ mound near Portland Castle have been approved by the Council. We are pleased that the revised plans position these buildings further away from the viewing mound, and that public car parking will be provided, but rather disappointed that they are, so far, still planned to be finished in a simple metal cladding. Historic England similarly considered this inappropriate, with a ‘harmful impact on the setting and significance of Portland Castle’ in design and materials. We are encouraged to see that a condition of the permission requires details and samples of the materials proposed ‘to ensure a satisfactory visual appearance of the development and the setting of the heritage asset’ [ie. Portland Castle].
As well as looking at all planning applications in the general area based on Weymouth and Portland, we also study the broader forward planning documents - local plans, neighbourhood plans, conservation plans, minerals plans (notably quarrying on Portland), landscape quality plans and others. Over the years, our area has been planned and re-planned in various guises. The following two are out for public consultation at present.
Sutton Poyntz Neighbourhood Plan
The first Neighbourhood Plan to be prepared in our area was for Portland. Now the Sutton Poyntz Plan has also been created and has reached the stage of public consultation. It represents a considerable body of work on a range of topics, and we have written to congratulate the Sutton Poyntz Society and the ‘Neighbourhood Forum’ on its production. Naturally, its policies and principles are centred on protecting and enhancing the existing good qualities of this historic village, which is tightly enclosed within open fields and the downland above. We generally support the plan, and were impressed with a section on Community Aspirations, showing what is important to residents of the village, with their ideas for future improvements.
Dorset Local Plan
The first intimations to the public on a plan for the whole of the new Dorset area have just appeared. This is at a very early stage, and is a public consultation on the ‘Statement of Community Involvement’, which simply sets out how and when the Council will carry out the necessary consultations on the plan. All the former Borough Council’s work on preparing the draft Local Plan for Weymouth and Portland will have ceased, though it may be expected that it would feed into the new Plan. Until the Dorset Plan gets well under way, this area will presumably still be left with the ‘Saved Policies’ from the 2015 adopted Weymouth and Portland Plan as the basis for decision-making.
D-DAY – THE FERRY STEPS One of the most significant locations connected with D-Day in our area is the harbourside, centred on the Ferry Steps between the Pavilion and Custom House Quay, where American troops embarked for France in 1944. Yet it has no commemoration or information precisely there. We had held out hopes that something would be done to rectify this, but currently anticipated works to the area have been held back.
By next year the works should be complete, including newly strengthened harbour walls, new steps, and demolition of the small brick building, opening up a wider promenade area for the public. Then we expect that a good information board can be put in place, explaining, with illustrations, the role played by this area. With many US citizens coming here on cruise ships each year, it is more than ever important to provide this information right at the point of departure.
Planning News & Notes May - June 2019
The top of the old church viewed over the roofs of harbourside buildings