Plans for Weymouth conservation area rejected

Plans for Weymouth conservation area rejected

Published by George Sharpe at 6:19pm 29th May 2020. (Updated at 6:21pm 29th May 2020)

The potential loss of a ‘green lung’ and dozens of trees has persuaded councillors to reject a scheme for 13 houses and six flats between Roman Road and Spa Road, at Radipole.

The site runs parallel to the Weymouth Way and has been used for years by local people – although it is not recognised as a public open space.

Several local councillors and almost a hundred local people asked that the site, which is owned by Dorset Council, be left as it is.

Some said it would be a mockery if the council, which has signed up to the climate and ecological emergency, did other than reject the application without exceptional reasons.

Radipole - Roman Road with the potential entrance to the building site at the end of the cul de sac

Cllr Kelvin Clayton said with most of the proposed homes being four-bed and the six ‘affordable’ flats offered only at a discount rather than for rent, it was hard to make the case for the application being an exception to the rules.

Thursday’s online planning committee heard that the site was both in the conservation area, had not been included in the Local Plan for housing, and was outside the defined development area.

Cllr Nick Ireland called on the committee to reject a recommendation from officers to approve the scheme.

He said he did not buy their argument that it was ‘adjacent’ to the defined development boundary, or that it was in the conservation area in name only.

“It’s binary. It’s either one thing or the other,” he said, arguing that there was no grounds for making an exception to council policy for the site.

The scheme had resulted in 60 letters of objection and more than 20 statements of objection, which took the committee an hour to hear. Most spoke of the loss of the green space, of the threat to the conservation area, the loss of trees and of potential traffic problems, especially for the five homes which would have drives onto Spa Road, although a highway officer said this was not a significant risk.

A turning point in the debate came where it was revealed that almost all of 40-60 trees in a copse in a corner of the site would be felled to make way for the new homes.

Resident Sally Parkes had written to the committee to stress the importance of the green space to local people, especially at the moment when the world was facing a pandemic.

Cllr Nick Ireland, who proposed rejecting the scheme, described the site as “a little green lung of land.” He said that to approve it would be against the council’s declaration of a climate and ecological emergency.

“The bottom line is we are going to lose a lot of trees and a green space and I don’t think the benefits outweigh that,” he said.

Cllr Jean Dunseith said the site was not a logical place to build, being an awkward shape, divided into two sections, in a conservation area with the proposal causing concerns about the entrances and exits on Spa Road, on the brow of a hill, with traffic calming.

“I think we need to conserve these green lungs…how important it is for residents, children, to step into green areas, to have a little bit of freedom,” she said, “if this small area, a pony paddock we are told is taken away, where do they go?”

The refusal was agreed 6-1, the only vote for the application coming from planning committee chairman Cllr Simon Christopher.

By Trevor Bevins, Local Democracy Reporter