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.
Editions from the past 12 months may be viewed via the buttons on the left.
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.
The full report with illustrated descriptions of this year’s awards can be seen on the Awards pages of this website. The main award was a well-deserved Certificate of Merit for local company ZeroC for the restoration and conversion of the historic Royal Naval Canteen Building near Portland Castle. Not only did they take on a large building that had been lying empty for twenty years, but they also put it to good use for affordable shared-ownership apartments and made a major improvement to the local area.
This project is part of a larger housing development, and commendably the company completed the restoration and conversion as a top priority, before the housing scheme has been fully implemented; this is in marked contrast to the known hazard with at-risk historic buildings, where the ‘enabling development’ which should help pay for the restoration work, goes ahead, while the historic building is left to deteriorate.
10 Church Street, Upwey.
The planning application for seven large houses in spacious grounds has finally been withdrawn, a year and a half after it was first ‘validated’ by the Council. This was one of three sites for development which together would have almost covered the whole of the southern half of the ‘Open Gap’ in this part of Upwey Conservation Area. One of the sites has already been lost to development; the other at Chesterfield Place is awaiting the outcome of an appeal.
8-10 Dorchester Road.
Not surprisingly the proposal for three blocks of flats on the site of these two ‘Regency’ villas has been approved, as there had already been an approval for flats on this site. There was emphasis on the derelict state to which the properties had been allowed to deteriorate.
We had originally hoped that the pair of villas would be statutorily listed to protect them from decay and demolition, but this was not to be.
53 Rodwell Road
There is now a fourth planning application on this controversial small site which is just a single house and garden at the junction of Rodwell Road and Rodwell Avenue. Our Society, various local people and the Borough Council have consistently objected strongly to the proposal for a block of six flats to replace it. It has now twice gone to appeal, but the Inspectors have only refused permission on the grounds of the effect on the adjacent property, but not its character and appearance or on highway grounds, which are the matters most concerning all the respondents. As a result, partial costs were awarded against the Council for refusing on visual grounds.
Nevertheless, we have maintained our objection, as have the new Town Council, whilst Dorset Council’s Conservation Officer has stated that he is unable to support the proposal.
SITES AT THE EDGE OF THE COUNTRYSIDE
Land at Overcombe Drive, Preston
There were vigorous objections, including from our Society, to a planning application for three pairs of four-storey houses on a narrow and steep strip of verge rising above the road near the hilltop in Preston. In our view they would have been overbearing and dominant, and would stand out starkly against the open fields of the hilltop. The applicants responded quickly by withdrawing their application, though it seems as though this is not the end of the matter, as often happens in such cases they have mentioned a revised scheme.
There seems an insatiable desire to build on unsuitable patches of land either as close to the sea as possible or as in this case at the edge of the countryside, commanding wide views over great distances.
Martleaves House, Wyke Regis
Similarly, we have objected to four dwellings proposed on land at the very edge of Wyke, overlooking the Fleet and Lyme Bay. The site in question is within the nationally significant Heritage Coast land and designated as Land of Local Landscape Importance in the adopted Local Plan, as well as being outside the defined Development Boundary. Many local people are also strongly against the proposal, which would breach the boundary between the urban area and the open coastal fields.
Portland’s former Schools and College Wiith Portland’s schools now concentrated mainly in the Southwell campus, the original premises are gradually being turned to other uses. The housing development on the former Underhill Junior School is going ahead, while Brackenbury Infants School nearby is now Portland Town Council’s offices. The Underhill development is another example of a site close to the sea and with magnificent views over Chesil Cove and the West Cliffs (pictured).
Southwell School and Royal Manor Arts College. Following public consultation two years ago on proposals for residential development at these two sites, planning applications have now been submitted for both. We are content with the general layouts and appearance of the two proposed schemes, but have written with our concerns about the extent of the Royal Manor development. In the consultation only the southern half of the site was to be developed, with the northern half remaining open, allowing the very attractive view across to the row of traditional Portland houses and cottages of St George’s Road, which were given Conservation Area designation for their particular qualities as recently as 2017. Now the development plans cover the whole site from south to north, with up to 98 dwellings in a phased scheme. This, as well as other housing schemes in the pipeline, will place an added burden on the already stretched services, including the health provision.
WEYMOUTH CIVIC SOCIETY - THE WAY FORWARD
On the 5th November the Society hosted a ‘World Café’ style event, under the banner of The Way Forward, sparking off ideas for the direction that the Society should take in the future. Ably organised by Keith Holdaway, this has provided much food for thought which will take a time to digest and find the best ways to implement.
The three principal issues identified were –
Making Weymouth and Portland pedestrian and cyclist friendly;
Promoting the image of Weymouth and Portland; and
Neglected buildings and assets of community value –
with the following priority actions –
Improve the guides and leaflets available;
Lobby for a tourist information centre;
Maintain a list of assets at risk and those of wider community value.
The following were members’ key expectations-
Should draw attention to the local history, natural environment and other advantages;
Should promote the town more actively by producing publications, exhibitions, organise events, guided walks etc;
Should reach out to work more to other local organisations with compatible aims.
LIAISON WITH OTHERS
A small group of members representing the Society met with the Town Clerk of Weymouth to discuss a range of issues of mutual interest and concern. It is hoped that this will be the start of regular meetings in the future.
There are also plans, initiated by Dorchester Civic Society, for all the local Civic Societies to get together to discuss concerns on planning matters, now that they are all within the Dorset Council authority and affected by its decisions.