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 Society has responded to the consultation on the Local Plan Review: Preferred Options document. We have once again repeated our strong objections to the development of very popular town centre car parks all along Commercial Road for residential use (we presume ‘prestige’ waterfront apartments on the open market), cafés and restaurants. These shoppers’ car parks are, we firmly believe, essential to maintain the vitality and viability of the town centre, especially with so many threats to retail shopping these days. They may not look beautiful, but car parks can be made far more attractive with a little effort, while still fulfilling a vital function.
We are also opposed to retail development on the Swannery Car Park – one of the two important long-stay car parks. Likewise, the space at and around Weymouth railway station, planned for development, should be kept open for essential car parking and dropping-off for passengers.
We have already made our views known about the Pavilion Peninsula proposals, the most important of which is again the woeful reduction in car parking spaces planned, which we fear would kill off the theatre and any other new facilities for the public that might be developed there. There are good aspects, such as opening up a walkway around the whole peninsula, including especially the south side, fronting the harbour, from which the public has been excluded for many years. On the other hand we now read of the apparent plan to develop hotels on the site before any prospect of leisure facilities being provided - which are what most people want to see.
The Society has objected strongly to the recommendation that the Western Relief Road (‘Jurassic Coast Highway’) should not be included in the plan. A detailed plan for this route was drawn up by the County Council many years ago, taking care to choose a sensitive alignment largely well away from the nature designations on the Fleet and its cliffs. There have been increasing calls for this bypass to help ease the traffic congestion and reduce the environmental pollution along the routes Westwey Road/Boot Hill/Buxton Road/Portland Road, and Lanehouse Rocks Road/Portland Road. At last there seems to be a glimmer of a prospect that the route might be safeguarded.
Our area of interest covers the whole Borough and its environs, and we do not speak for any particular area. Thus we have not commented on the currently proposed housing sites, accepting that housing is a pressing need for the population in general and should be provided, whereas these sites would clearly be an unwelcome intrusion for neighbouring residents. At least the many smaller sites that were suggested in the previous Issues and Options document, which would have badly affected numerous neighbourhoods in the Weymouth and Portland areas, are now deleted.
A detailed plan for the road layout in the southern part of Curtis Fields has been submitted to the Council. We have written with strong concerns about the serious traffic problems that could result from the proposed access on to Lanehouse Rocks Road, at a very steep section of the road half way up the hill opposite the last houses. We consider this a poor location, unsuitable and dangerous, with inadequate visibility at the junction and with the road too narrow, particularly for heavy traffic.
16 LANSDOWNE SQUARE
We have objected strongly to an application for six houses on one single residential plot of land in Lansdowne Square. We think the development would be cramped, with small gardens, and involving a 2-3 storey building directly on the frontage. In this already congested cul-de-sac, the parking provision of only one space per house in a tight layout appears seriously inadequate.
ALDI AND LIDL STORES
Two planning applications for foodstores have come in to the Council in recent months. The first was ALDI, which chose a site by Dorchester Road close to both Sainsbury’s and Morrisons, and not very far from LIDL and the Marks and Spencer shop at the garage at Redlands. We wrote with our concern for the viability of these existing stores, and the seriously excessive over-load in this particular location, when other areas such as Littlemoor are without provision. Additionally the planned closure of the present ALDI store could badly affect local people in that area.
Now there is an application for a LIDL store half way along the causeway to Portland, exactly at the entrance to the Sailing Centre and other uses. Again this seems to us in the wrong place. We would support a retail store further along towards Portland on the land already planned for development, which could better serve Portland people. The currently proposed site is close to the waters of Portland Harbour and the various sailing facilities, and in our view should ideally be reserved for a more maritime-related use. In any case, we think that on this significant site there should be a landmark building of quality design.
80 THE ESPLANADE – ALTERATIONS TO FRONTAGE
It is heartening to see an application for a property near the bus stops by the King’s Statue, where the modern shopfront is to be totally removed and the building’s facade restored to its original Georgian appearance, as was previously achieved on a property further down the terrace. We look forward to seeing the completed transformation.
EWELEAZE FARM CAMPING
We have objected to a current proposal to allow camping over a wide area of coastal fields by Redcliff Point east of Weymouth, for two months in the year. We have long been concerned at camping here each August, permitted under the 28-day rule, with now up to 3,000 people per day (a figure acknowledged in the planning application). Tents and vehicles impinge on a considerable length of the Coast Path and intrude on the landscape. We think this proposal would be a further intensification of commercial activities in this very sensitive Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty adjacent to the Heritage Coast and the famous World Heritage Site, where people expect to come and quietly enjoy the cliff-top scenery and open vistas of the wonderful Dorset coast.
Not surprisingly, the Council has granted planning permission for the details of the Ferrybridge Inn development - the plans are so close to what was approved in outline originally, that there was very little scope for making further comments. We must now wait to see the results of all this.
53 RODWELL ROAD
We have regularly referred to this corner plot, where a company has consistently applied for planning permission for a block of six apartments, considered by ourselves and others as totally inappropriate overdevelopment. The first attempt resulted in an appeal, which was then withdrawn by the applicants. In the second, an appeal was dismissed by an Inspector. Now a third application has been refused by the Council, on broadly the same grounds as our own - unduly prominent on this corner site, detrimental and inappropriate to the locality in scale, layout, massing and materials, as well as the harmful effect on neighbouring properties.
This year a very small number of projects have been nominated for the awards. The final decision will be made by the Board at their early November meeting, with presentations on the 19th November, accompanied by a talk and followed by light refreshments.