Plans to demolish former school in Weymouth withdrawn

Plans to demolish former school in Weymouth withdrawn

Published by George Sharpe at 2:10pm 28th October 2019. (Updated at 2:16pm 28th October 2019)

An application for flats and houses on the former Thornlow School site in Weymouth has been withdrawn.

It comes after criticism of the proposal for 12 flats and a four-bed house which included the demolition of some of the existing buildings.

News that the application had been withdrawn was welcomed by Weymouth Civic Society, which had been among the objectors.

Thornlow School site Connaught Road Weymouth
Thornlow School site Connaught Road Weymouth

Said its planning and environment chairman Pauline Crump:

“Weymouth Civic Society welcomes the withdrawal of the current application for the re-development of the Thornlow School site on Connaught Road.  We hope that any future application will be more sympathetic to the character of the Conservation Area and to local concerns about the impact that over-development would have in the area.

“The design of any new application should be less overbearing and include sufficient parking to avoid increasing pressure on an already congested location. This prominent site offers an opportunity for an imaginative and high-quality development to further enhance an attractive area of the town.”

The latest application for the site was submitted in the spring and followed a previous scheme which was approved in May 2018 for nine flats and a four-bed house, but was never built. The most recent application, submitted to the new unitary Dorset Council, increased the number of flats by three.

Connaught Road sign Weymouth

There was concern when the new application was submitted because Dorset Council decided the permission should be agreed at officer level and not come before a committee of councillors.

Weymouth Civic Society said both applications represented an over development of the site which would cause additional parking problems in the area, a view reflected in many letters of objection from neighbours.
The latest application is in the name of Silver Arrow Bespoke Ltd from Poole.

A consultant report with the application had argued that it would not be financial viable for the developers to provide affordable housing on the site in line with council policy for sites which with nine or more homes.

Councillors were told last year that the building, with several protected trees in the grounds, plays an important part in the local street scene – a view reflected in more than 20 letters of objection at the time, including from the Civic Society.

The letters cited over-development of the site, inadequate parking, increased traffic, loss of privacy and light, and the harm to a building of ‘special architectural and historic interest’ in a Conservation Area.

The existing building was constructed for use as a school between 1866 and 1902 and began operating as Thornlow School in 1912, being requisitioned during the war in 1940 and then re-opening as a school in 1947. It closed in 2015 with the site sold on the open market for £750,000, 25% per cent below what it was expected to fetch.

By Trevor Bevins, Local Democracy Reporter