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.
Recent editions may be viewed via the buttons on the left.
For information about local planning policies, to view the local news feed, 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 Society are in touch with the Council on the matter of the future of the Council Offices site on North Quay. It is vitally important that a good scheme will emerge from the Council’s deliberations. In 2016 their own scheme was granted outline permission, with a total of 72 dwellings and some commercial space.
The illustrative design accompanying it was by Ben Pentreath & Associates, who also provided the initial design for the McCarthy & Stone residential apartments nearby. It involved a re-creation of Old Weymouth, with a series of buildings fronting North Quay, broadly in the style of the original historic houses, even including the ‘Tudor House’, and with other residences and car parking for all the properties on the line of the ancient High Street behind.
Since then there has been the whole interlude when plans were put forward by a private company to convert the present Council Offices building to 56 flats. This proposal was allowed on appeal, but the Council had already stopped the sale of the property, and decided to maintain control of the site. Now they are considering the best way to develop the site, on the basis, as we understand, that the present building will be demolished. Our members are keen to see the best outcome for this very significant harbourside site, including in particular the need for some public car parking, and hope to be able to offer views based on the experience and knowledge of our members.
PAVILION PENINSULA PROPOSALS Public consultations are ongoing on the proposed development of the Pavilion Peninsula, with an exhibition in the Library until 6th April. The outline application for the development is planned for the spring, so we need to make any comments very quickly. Our Planning and Environment Committee will meet during the last week of March, after the AGM, to consider a response.
WEYMOUTH TOWN CENTRE
The designation of Weymouth Town Centre as ‘at risk’ has been a major blow, and reflects its gradual deterioration, worsening in recent times. It does seem to be increasingly seen as a wake-up call for serious action to try to stem this trend and make the town centre a fine and attractive place again. We welcome the fact that concerted action by the Borough Council, Weymouth BID, and others, is now being planned, and we can but hope that the impetus for improvement will be maintained over a substantial period.
In addition to the number of empty shops, one of the main problems is the condition of the buildings, many in a shabby state on the upper levels, and with large garish fascias on the ground floor shopfronts, quite inappropriate to the historic buildings which they are plastered over. As a Society we have been concerned at these matters for a long time and have regularly tried to draw attention to the problems. These are issues faced up and down the country, as the impact of internet and out-of-town shopping bites ever more, and it will be a prolonged battle to prevent further deterioration of the historic core of Weymouth.
One example where there is some cause for hope is the important property just south of the King’s Statue – 2-4 Coburg Place. As part of a pair with Statue House, it has a rounded end, forming a backdrop to views of the Statue, and also very visible on the approach up Westham Road. When the Olympics were imminent, the Society approached the Council, hoping that its poor exterior appearance could be improved, but it has continued unchanged. We were therefore pleased to see an application for a scheme that will involve conversion of the upper floors to flats, with emphasis placed on full refurbishment of the whole building. Permission has now been granted, and we must now wait – and hope - for its implementation.
PROPOSED IMPROVEMENTS ALONG THE ESPLANADE
There have been two recent planning applications involving improvements along the Esplanade, for which we have written in support. The Dorothy Inn (no. 48-49), a late 18th century listed building, is the subject of an application by Punch Partnerships to carry out a major refurbishment, with apartments on the upper floors. We have welcomed the proposed refurbishment, the removal of the modern glazed gallery and the reinstatement of sash windows to help restore its Georgian character.
Much further along the Esplanade, the Seascape Café at the south end of Greenhill Gardens is to be extended, with the upper floor brought into café use, opening on to a new terrace which should provide splendid views over the Gardens and Weymouth Bay, while also providing shelter to the ground floor outdoor area.
We reported that the proposal to demolish the house on Greenhill with a part-octagonal tower was refused by the Council. The applicants appealed against this decision, but we are glad to see that the Inspector has now dismissed the appeal, for broadly the same reasons as we had cited – that is, a building that forms part of the character of a Conservation Area should not be demolished where there are no plans for its replacement by any development that would ‘conserve or enhance’ the character of the area.
PROPOSED HOUSES AT CORFE HILL
Following the withdrawal of a planning application for four houses at Corfe Hill Farm, an identical application has been submitted to the Council. The site is between Radipole and Redlands at the western end of a narrow lane leading off Dorchester Road, and lying immediately at the edge of the pretty Wey Valley.
While we acknowledge that the development would remove some unsightly old farm buildings, we have written to the Council that the suburban character of the houses as proposed would be inappropriate to this area of Local Landscape Importance which forms part of an ‘Important Open Gap’ outside the Development Boundary. Although there is a housing area to the east of the site, this has a natural western boundary separating it from the countryside, while in contrast the proposed four houses would bring an urban character of building into an essentially rural setting.
Following on from this application, an outline application for four more houses in the same general area (two in the grounds of the historically important Corfe Hill House) was submitted to the Council by another applicant. In this case the proposal was in outline only, with no firm details of the appearance of the houses. We have written again to the Council, with similar views, with particular concern at the lack of information on their design.
LARGE HOUSING SITES
The Government is constantly pushing developers and local Councils to build more houses. In our own area, including Chickerell, there are now several large greenfield sites for housing developments of hundreds of plots, either with planning permission, or going through the application process. The proposal by Fry’s at Nottington Lane has been approved by Weymouth Council, further development at Littlemoor is still in the pipeline, and the Betterment site at Lanehouse is developing fast.In Chickerell, major development has been on the go for several years, and there is a further proposal for nearly 300 more dwellings on the hill slope north of the village.
Still, the magic ‘Five Years’ Supply’ for housing has been constantly pronounced as not yet attained, making the whole area vulnerable to some undesirable proposed housing developments being allowed on appeal! Councils are naturally wary of involving themselves in having to pay costs if they lose appeals, and this can lead to increased pressure on them to approve proposals against their better judgment.
KING GEORGE’S SCEPTRE
The Society have recently been investigating the case of the missing sceptre from King George III’s statue – a Grade I listed monument - on the Esplanade. Members are considering trying to replace the sceptre, which must have been in King George’s right hand originally. We do not know when it went missing, but it can be seen, still intact, on the cover photo of the Dorset volume of Pevsner. Contact has been made with the Borough Council and Historic England, who met with members of the Society at the Statue to discuss it. Now further research is needed to determine the form and materials of the sceptre, how it could be created and then reinstated on the statue – and how it could best be financed.
SIGNS ON ROUNDABOUTS
We had objected to the County Council’s applications for advertising signs on four more roundabouts in the Borough – supposedly ‘sponsorship’ signs, but with no intention to use the revenue to maintain attractive roundabouts. Now three of these have been approved, but at least the application for signs at Portland Bill has been withdrawn, following objections by Portland Town Council, the Court Leet, and our own Society.
THOMAS FOWELL BUXTON MONUMENT
We are pleased that the repairs to the monument on Bincleaves Green to the anti-slavery campaigner Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, to which the Civic Society contributed £100, have been completed, following damage to the low stone ‘quatrefoil’ fronting the main monument last November.