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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A group of our members have met with Councillor Jeff Cant, Leader, and Martin Hamilton, Strategic Director, and discussed a range of issues focussed on the future of the Council Offices site as well as general Town Centre matters. While no definite proposals were on the table for the Council Offices site, we felt there were broad areas of agreement, including serious need for public car parking, importance of good design to enhance the special harbourside location and respect its setting, including the Old Town Hall and the ‘Boot’, maintenance of a reasonable building height, use to be primarily residential, with a limited number of small businesses eg. shops and cafés on the North Quay frontage, and a service road at the rear broadly along the line of the ancient High Street.
WEYMOUTH TOWN CENTRE
An increasing amount of interest and activity is being generated with the aim of improving the Town Centre. The Council has agreed a programme to pursue a range of good and worthwhile projects, the Town Centre Manager has already been very active in a number of specific initiatives, and groups of local people have begun practical tasks to make immediate improvements. In view of our long-standing concern for the well-being of the Town Centre, we have been invited to send a representative to the Town Centre Group discussions.
PAVILION PENINSULA DEVELOPMENT
On behalf of the Society the Planning and Environment Committee has set out a wide range of points for consideration in response to the public consultation on the future development of the Peninsula. Our views are currently available to read in full on this website, and include the following.
The local authority should maintain adequate control of the development. Buildings should be well designed and low-rise - no more than 2 and 3 storeys; the north side of the peninsula overlooking the bay is suitable for the proposed restaurants and hotel. Attractive all-weather leisure facilities will be important. We agree with marine related uses on the harbourside.
The Pavilion Theatre must be retained, enhanced and supported; we have suggested better developed conference facilities, linked to the proposed hotel. There must be adequate dropping off facilities for vehicles in front of the theatre. We are against a second hotel in this area – the forecourt should be kept open as a public space for various uses. This would also retain the fine views to the Nothe Peninsula and from the Nothe Steps across to the beach.
The amount of parking provision on the peninsula as proposed is seriously inadequate and should be substantially increased. We have suggested a two-level car park, with a covered walkway direct into the theatre complex. We have also suggested that the main vehicular route on the peninsula should be on the south side of the Pavilion building, directly accessing both the marine-related uses by the harbourside and the main car parking area, so as to leave the north side facing the beach mainly pedestrian. We agree with the proposal that there should be good pedestrian walkways around the perimeter of the whole peninsula.
Two issues are currently being considered by the Council.
PUBLIC CONVENIENCES. We have responded to the consultation on toilet provision on the Esplanade, stressing the importance of sufficient public conveniences at intervals, rather than just a few large facilities at more widely spaced locations. We have asked for any new buildings to be of good appearance with well-designed interior layouts, but with the proviso that there should be no new toilets on the seaward side of the Esplanade, blocking out views to the beach and bay. Any new public conveniences at ground level in the King’s Statue area should, we think, be accommodated in part of the former Tourist Information Centre, where the existing facilities for disabled people are located.
ESPLANADE LIGHTING SCHEME. It is very important that the design of any new lighting scheme should enhance this most important Esplanade area, and our Society is to be represented on the focus group to help shape the concepts for it. We have for many years been concerned that the fine Esplanade should not be spoiled, and have made representations to the Council against various proposals which would add to the clutter of structures on the seafront and beach, including the Laser Lights, to which we were opposed from the outset as being unsuitable types of illumination for the location. We asked for the retention of the Fairy Lights or similar ‘catenary lighting’ which would illuminate the Esplanade, forming a delightful necklace of lights around the curve of the bay - but that was apparently not to be! We must now hope that a worthy lighting scheme will be devised for our very special historic Esplanade.
Our Society was one of the consultees when a fully revised Pevsner book on the buildings of Dorset was being prepared, and we made a number of points on the draft text. Now there is to be a ceremony at the end of May to mark the publication of the new book, which Pru Bollam, Chairman of the Planning and Environment Committee, has been invited to attend.