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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The highest award this year was a Certificate of Merit for the painstaking restoration of the Grade II listed Rodwell Cottage, 50 Rodwell Road, from a poor and neglected condition to a fine property making a significant contribution to the area. Other awards were: Commendations for three projects - Princess Gardens - a development of eight new houses on Alexandra Road; 2 East Street, Fortuneswell, Portland - a sympathetic conversion of an old storage building to a small house; and the new ‘Memorial Garden’ on the viewing mound near Portland Castle; also Letters of Appreciation for the restoration of the Jubilee Clock, and for the conversion of a redundant hotel at Castletown to the Portland Outdoor Centre. Full information may be found on this website. All previous years’ award-winning projects can also be seen. (Click the buttons below.)
There was lively debate in the Council when the planning application for the Pavilion Peninsula site came up for consideration. While the plans were not changed from those we commented upon (see May/June notes), there has been one major concession won by the Councillors – a condition that at least 600 parking spaces should be provided. It was stressed that this was only an outline application, and that the plans were illustrative to indicate how the site might be developed. There are, however, a number of quite firm conditions as to height of buildings, quality, maintenance of views across the neck of the peninsula and other matters. We see that the Masterplan design must be ‘worked up in conjunction with the community and include, among others, the ‘Conservation Society’.
COUNCIL OFFICES SITE
The Council’s Management Committee has had a closed meeting to agree a developer for this important site. Members of our Society had met with the Council’s Leader and the Strategic Director and discussed a range of issues as reported in our April News, with broad agreement on the need for public car parking, importance of good design to enhance the harbourside location and respect the setting of the site including the Old Town Hall and Boot Inn, maintenance of a reasonable building height, the use to be primarily residential with a some small businesses such as shops and cafés, and a service road at the rear broadly along the line of the ancient High Street. Our Committee Chairman Pru Bollam stressed these points at the Council’s Management Committee meeting in December.
The latest plans for Brewers Quay have now been approved by the Council. Originally in 2010 an 85-bed hotel and 13 apartments were proposed, together with the museum, shops, cafes etc. This application was ultimately withdrawn, to be replaced by a plan for 35 residential units instead of the hotel, and this gained planning permission in 2016. In the current application the residential element has been increased to 47 units including the Coopers building. While these proposals involve construction above the existing height of the building, they do not appear to impinge severely on its distinctive character, provided that the whole scheme is carried out sensitively, and we have not objected to them. The immediate aspiration now is that progress will be made on works for the preservation of this historic building before it deteriorates further, which should be followed by its full restoration and conversion.
ALDI AND LIDL STORES
The planning application for a new Aldi store has now been approved by Councillors, notwithstanding the unsuitability of the site chosen, being close to several other foodstores, and unfortunately involving the closure of the Jubilee Retail Park outlet.
Likewise Lidl by Portland Beach Road at the junction with Hamm Beach Road has been approved, having been overwhelmingly supported by Portland residents and others, who are looking forward to it coming. Our Society is in favour of the store, but we still believe that this particular site is not the best location for a number of reasons, and that it would have better served Portland people if positioned closer to the island.
SITES WHERE IMPROVEMENTS HAVE BEEN MADE
Every now and then, planning applications to which we have objected or expressed reservations are revised for the better. The following are three such examples.
1. LAND NORTH OF LITTLEMOOR ROAD, FORMER CARAVAN SALES AREA
Three four-storey blocks totalling 36 flats had been proposed for this site near Goulds Garden Centre, which we considered intrusive, over-dominant and out of keeping with the area. Following serious concerns expressed by our Society, other members of the public and the Council’s Planning and Urban Design Officer, this was subsequently replaced by a much improved and more imaginative design with 24 flats in three two-storey blocks. These new plans have now been approved by the Council.
There has been some improvement in the plans for this former residential home in Wyke Road, reported in our July/August notes. The bulky and over-dominant second-floor extension has been reduced a little by lowering the roof ridge, and the application has since been approved by the Council. The proposed east elevation of the building, which is very visible as approached along Wyke Road, still remains rather plain and heavy compared with the existing appearance, but on our other concerns, the Council has confirmed that the characteristic balcony across the frontage is not to be removed, and that the windows will all be of uniform design, as we had hoped.
3. PLOT X1 AND X2, OSPREY QUAY
Fresh plans have been produced for a site near the newly created ‘Memorial Garden’, which is set on a viewing mound near the harbourside walkway and Portland Castle. These are a substantial improvement on a previous planning application for the site, which proposed two blocks of business units immediately adjacent to the Memorial Garden. Now the size of the site has been increased, so that the two buildings can be set much further away from the Garden, allowing for a small public car park adjacent to it. The site is to be planted with suitable maritime species and ‘umbrella pines’.
We are disappointed that the proposed buildings are to be finished in a simple metal cladding, unchanged from the original application, whereas we had hoped for materials that would reflect the marine location, such as those at the Portland Marina, but at least in the new location their impact on the character of this sensitive area around the Memorial Garden and Portland Castle should be much reduced.