Weymouth sea swim club building set to be demolished

Weymouth sea swim club building set to be demolished

Published by The Wessex FM News Team at 3:09pm 27th September 2019. (Updated at 9:45am 2nd October 2019)

Part of a building once used by Weymouth sea swimmers, and previously used by the RNLI at Greenhill is expected to be demolished.

The Weymouth Bay Sea Swimmers club used the sub-building at Greenhill  from September 2016 until the end of March this year and have been in dispute with the Greenhill Community Trust which owns the building, since then.

Their changing room and store is an ‘add on’ to the Greenhill beach chalets at the western end of the block which the Greenhill Community Trust now want to remove and re-instate the area.

swim 2
Sea Swim club opening with Channel swimmer Mervyn Sharpe

Dorset Council planning officers say the use by the swim club never received consent from the council  and that the dispute between the club and the community trust has no bearing on the planning application.

Officers are recommending that the removal of the former RNLI facility be approved when the area planning committee meets next week (Oct 3), with conditions to be agreed later about the site restoration.

The building was first approved for RNLI use in 2001 with the intention of it being a temporary structure on the upper deck of the beach chalet building.

swim3

In a report to the committee officers say it is not clear when the RNLI vacated the sub-building, but retrospective planning permission was acquired in September 2011 for a new lifeguard hut on the beach directly in front of the beach chalet building. The site should have been restored at the time the RNLI left, but never was.

Officers says the application to remove the structure should be approved:

“The removal of the sub-building would not result in the loss of a community facility as the resulting space following the demolition would thereafter form part of the larger covered open area on the upper deck and available to the public…The removal of the RNLI facility is therefore acceptable in principle.”

The report also argues that the removal of the sub-building would 'preserve and enhance the significance of the heritage assets,' and that: 'The removal of the facility would result in a positive visual impact within the character of the area.'

Letters of appeal

But several letters have appealed for the site to continue in use.

Dr Fiona Neely said:

“It has provided a much used venue for community physical activity as well as facilitated social interaction, mental well being, and use of other local facilities such as cafés and restaurants. It provides a safe environment for changing and warming up after cold water swimming throughout the year, as well as a place to store kit.

“What good will demolition do? What will be the replacement? A promenade which only leads to a few private beach huts? But also a roof over a balcony, likely to become a nice place for rubbish to be tossed during the day or rough sleepers to pitch at night. From a positively enhancing community facility for sea swimmers – Weymouth receives what instead?”

Jason West, director of  Weymouth Bay Sea Swimmers said:

“Weymouth needs this facility to remain open to the public and this structure should not be demolished unless or until alternative accommodation is made available to our company and our swimmers. This has not been forthcoming to date.”

By Trevor Bevins, local democracy reporter