Planning appeal may decide the fate of Colwell Shopping Centre

Planning appeal may decide the fate of Colwell Shopping Centre

Published by Maria Greenwood at 7:18am 4th February 2020.

Redevelopment of Weymouth’s former Colwell Shopping Centre may now be decided by a planning appeal.

In principle consent was granted in February 2016 for demolition and the existing buildings and the construction of two new shop units and 23 apartments – but the detailed application for demolition, which followed, was refused by Dorset Council in May 2019.

The council said that it could not approve the removal of the centre without a detailed method statement and an agreed scheme for its replacement, including how an adjoining building would be protected.

The refusal letter said:

"The proposal for demolition of a substantial building within the Weymouth Town Centre Conservation Area without an agreed scheme for its replacement would be harmful to the setting of  the Conservation Area and to the adjoining listed building, and would put the adjacent and physically linked listed buildings at risk."

Colwell Centre - School Street Plaza

'Contested'

That refusal is now being contested by developer, London-based 10 Ant Group, with the appeal being decided by written representations to a planning inspector.

The permission to demolish the centre claimed that the site is no longer viable for retail use.

In the request for demolition an agent acting for the owner said there had been problems with unlawful access, unsocial activities, drug use and squatting, despite the building being secured.

At the time there was an application to make alterations to an adjoining listed building, 3 School Street, “to accommodate the demolition of Colwell Shopping Centre” but that has since been withdrawn from the planning register.

Former colwell centre weymouth

'History' 

The Colwell Centre dates from the post war period and was said by agents to have:

"A poor quality red brick façade that features replica historic bay windows and features the use of incongruous materials on the side elevations.

"As such it is considered that the property has a negative impact on the character and appearance of the conservation area.

"Therefore, the loss of the property is considered to be acceptable, on the basis that redevelopment of the site is done to a high standard in-keeping with the prevailing historic character."

Mike Ellery who previously ran the centre until it closed in January 2019, said that the School Street Plaza, as it was then known, had failed, despite best efforts, to attract enough customers to be viable.

Plaque on School Street Colwell Centre

'What you might not know' 

The site is where the Weymouth Royal Hospital stood from 1872 until 1921.

During the First World War it helped over 7,000 sick and wounded sailors and soldiers.

Nothing of that building remains although a plaque on the side of the Colwell Centre records the significance of the site.