Protesters' call to save open space in Weymouth

Dorset Echo: BATTLEGROUND: Greenhill chalets BATTLEGROUND: Greenhill chalets

CAMPAIGNERS are calling for green space in Weymouth to be saved as council chiefs press on with moves to sell off the town’s ‘jewel of the seafront’.

The process of selling off chalets and other leisure facilities around Greenhill Gardens looks set to be delayed after intervention from councillors is prompting the authority to consult with the community before it proceeds.

Despite this delay, campaigners believe the council has already made up its mind and will proceed to market the area regardless of local feeling.

It is feared a new owner will hike up chalet rents, making it unaffordable for local families, but there are also concerns about the wider implications a sale will have on the public gardens and surrounding area.

Chairman of the Chalet Users Community Group Sue Bray said the fight wasn’t about chalets but the future of Greenhill under ‘privatisation’ and the potential loss of open space.

She said the sale would effectively put most of Greenhill in private ownership and there are fears that a new owner, who would want to get their money back after investing in the site, could block access and put forward new development proposals.

“We’re talking about open space being lost forever,” she said.

Not all of Greenhill Gardens would be affected but campaigners believe development in the area is inevitable. Chairman of the Friends of Greenhill Gardens Barbara Dubben said: “Our concern is development. If the council can’t make the chalets pay then how do they expect someone to come in and pay a huge amount of money and recoup it all? They will have to look at development somewhere along the line.”

She said the council was laying down conditions as to what could be done in the gardens but it was worded as such that ‘everything was left wide open’.

The council agreed in November to begin the process of selling the Greenhill Gardens chalets, Esplanade chalets, Greenhill Play Gardens and chalets, as well as Pebbles cafe, tennis courts, putting green and public toilets.

That decision was later ‘called in’ by a councillor who claimed procedures hadn’t been followed when advertising the disposal.

It came before a scrutiny committee last month which decided there should be consultation before moving forward.

That is the course of action being recommended to the management committee on January 7.

Head of estates, Greg Northcote, advises a period of consultation before officers undertake marketing of the lease during the summer months with a view to it being sold by October 2014. The original sale date was April.

Mr Northcote says external legal advice confirmed the council’s approach on advertising the disposal was correct.

Mrs Bray said the decision to consult was ‘positive’ but the report gives the impression that the views of the public will be ignored. She is urging the committee to engage with stakeholders when consulting and consider any alternative proposals.

THE council says the sale of chalets and associated facilities at Greenhill will enhance the area and bring back into use closed up chalets due to obligations placed on the new owner to ensure improvements are made.

It is proposed to offer the properties for sale by formal tender on a single lease of up to 125 years.

The move to private ownership would save the council significant funds.

A report says the property is ‘underperforming’ and that ‘insufficient revenues’ mean maintenance issues cannot be tackled.

The chaletschalets produced a gross income of £85,192 in 2013/2014 but the council’s annual bill for various costs, including maintenance, is more than £90,000.

On top of this, future capital repairs mainly affecting the listed building of two-storey chaletschalets are estimated at £885,000.

Comments (23)

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7:07am Mon 30 Dec 13

Polyvista says...

No way should these prime public spaces be sold off!
No way should these prime public spaces be sold off! Polyvista

9:04am Mon 30 Dec 13

The Mighty Quin says...

The council is broke, that's a fact, there is no money left, things need to change.

So it seems like two options:

1. Raise everyone's council tax, so a few people can keep their seafront chalets.

2. Sell them off to a private company to manage, and have the owners pay a more appropriate amount of rent and maintenance.
The council is broke, that's a fact, there is no money left, things need to change. So it seems like two options: 1. Raise everyone's council tax, so a few people can keep their seafront chalets. 2. Sell them off to a private company to manage, and have the owners pay a more appropriate amount of rent and maintenance. The Mighty Quin

10:11am Mon 30 Dec 13

boobooweymouth says...

Leasing out the management of this area for 125 years seems win win to me. Saves council tax payers money and hopefully gets the chalets (many of which are a dilapadated eyesore) modernised.
Leasing out the management of this area for 125 years seems win win to me. Saves council tax payers money and hopefully gets the chalets (many of which are a dilapadated eyesore) modernised. boobooweymouth

10:21am Mon 30 Dec 13

Woodgate says...

Rock and a hard place. The Council cant cover costs (wages), more significantly, it needs to pass the escalating repair parcel pretty quick - but do they seriously expect to get a lump sum and high rent from someone to take on this liability in the face of an angry mob who demand that their subsidised picnic spot is kept just as it is ? WPBC should enter into a joint venture with an investor/operator based on shared risk and reward. Access to the gardens should be kept free but anyone wanting a chalet has to pay the going rate
Rock and a hard place. The Council cant cover costs (wages), more significantly, it needs to pass the escalating repair parcel pretty quick - but do they seriously expect to get a lump sum and high rent from someone to take on this liability in the face of an angry mob who demand that their subsidised picnic spot is kept just as it is ? WPBC should enter into a joint venture with an investor/operator based on shared risk and reward. Access to the gardens should be kept free but anyone wanting a chalet has to pay the going rate Woodgate

10:38am Mon 30 Dec 13

elloello1980 says...

privatise, privatise, privatise... Leave the government and councils with nothing to do but collect their wages, pension, bonuses and expenses!
privatise, privatise, privatise... Leave the government and councils with nothing to do but collect their wages, pension, bonuses and expenses! elloello1980

10:39am Mon 30 Dec 13

Sidney Hall says...

There could be more income made from these by changing the way they are rented out. Open up the calendar in January and rent them out per week. More people can share their them without having to pay for a whole year, a weekly price can bring it more money. Add on more for the summer months. The ones at Lyme Regis are done like this. It's easy and not too pricey to book one there at short notice for a week. This would also stop them becoming exclusive (Christchurch?). Admittedly the families that have them year after year might not like this (use the "thumbdown button" to say hello!). It would give everyone else a chance to use one without a big annual commitment.
There could be more income made from these by changing the way they are rented out. Open up the calendar in January and rent them out per week. More people can share their them without having to pay for a whole year, a weekly price can bring it more money. Add on more for the summer months. The ones at Lyme Regis are done like this. It's easy and not too pricey to book one there at short notice for a week. This would also stop them becoming exclusive (Christchurch?). Admittedly the families that have them year after year might not like this (use the "thumbdown button" to say hello!). It would give everyone else a chance to use one without a big annual commitment. Sidney Hall

10:52am Mon 30 Dec 13

Caption Sensible says...

Everything the Council touches turns to rust!

Stick to basic core services and get out of the property / asset market.
Everything the Council touches turns to rust! Stick to basic core services and get out of the property / asset market. Caption Sensible

11:08am Mon 30 Dec 13

shy talk says...

With a gross income of £85,192 and out goings of £90,000 and estimated costs of £885,00. If this were a private sector business it would end up in the hands of a receiver. Why should the taxpayer support this for the sake of a few? Who use smoke and mirrors to protect there subsidize chalets. Have the chalets user offered to pay the commercial rent?
With a gross income of £85,192 and out goings of £90,000 and estimated costs of £885,00. If this were a private sector business it would end up in the hands of a receiver. Why should the taxpayer support this for the sake of a few? Who use smoke and mirrors to protect there subsidize chalets. Have the chalets user offered to pay the commercial rent? shy talk

11:11am Mon 30 Dec 13

elloello1980 says...

shy talk wrote:
With a gross income of £85,192 and out goings of £90,000 and estimated costs of £885,00. If this were a private sector business it would end up in the hands of a receiver. Why should the taxpayer support this for the sake of a few? Who use smoke and mirrors to protect there subsidize chalets. Have the chalets user offered to pay the commercial rent?
We, the taxpayer, pay the wages of the council to do a much better job than they do!

We could earn lots of cash by selling the whole country to the chinese. shall we do that? We're already giving them control of our energy, so why not?!
[quote][p][bold]shy talk[/bold] wrote: With a gross income of £85,192 and out goings of £90,000 and estimated costs of £885,00. If this were a private sector business it would end up in the hands of a receiver. Why should the taxpayer support this for the sake of a few? Who use smoke and mirrors to protect there subsidize chalets. Have the chalets user offered to pay the commercial rent?[/p][/quote]We, the taxpayer, pay the wages of the council to do a much better job than they do! We could earn lots of cash by selling the whole country to the chinese. shall we do that? We're already giving them control of our energy, so why not?! elloello1980

11:29am Mon 30 Dec 13

smilealoft44 says...

These chalets could be vital accommadation to single people dossing in weymouth.
These chalets could be vital accommadation to single people dossing in weymouth. smilealoft44

2:47pm Mon 30 Dec 13

Bailey25 says...

I part own one of the chalets at greenhill gardens and I have to say the rent we pay should more than cover the outgoings which consist of the pool being emptied/filled each day (summer only) and bins emptied, facilities which are accessible to all, not just chalet users. The chalets haven't been painted in years so no outgoings have gone on this. Taxpayers shouldn't have to subsidise the chalets, the council are doing something wrong if the outgoings are more than the incomings. I would be happy to paint my chalet myself rather than have a rent increase. The yearly rent is paid regardless of how much the chalets are used so last year when it rained all summer, this should have put the council in profit!
I part own one of the chalets at greenhill gardens and I have to say the rent we pay should more than cover the outgoings which consist of the pool being emptied/filled each day (summer only) and bins emptied, facilities which are accessible to all, not just chalet users. The chalets haven't been painted in years so no outgoings have gone on this. Taxpayers shouldn't have to subsidise the chalets, the council are doing something wrong if the outgoings are more than the incomings. I would be happy to paint my chalet myself rather than have a rent increase. The yearly rent is paid regardless of how much the chalets are used so last year when it rained all summer, this should have put the council in profit! Bailey25

3:05pm Mon 30 Dec 13

shy talk says...

Me we all be privy to how much the total rent you pay for a chalet? Bailey25
Me we all be privy to how much the total rent you pay for a chalet? Bailey25 shy talk

3:06pm Mon 30 Dec 13

Rocksalt says...

Sorry. I can't see that acting as landlord for beach chalets should be a priority for any council unless this could generate a considerable profit that could cross-subsidise a key service. This does not appear to be possible.
Sorry. I can't see that acting as landlord for beach chalets should be a priority for any council unless this could generate a considerable profit that could cross-subsidise a key service. This does not appear to be possible. Rocksalt

4:47pm Mon 30 Dec 13

Get a grip says...

This whole matter is just another example of why the council should not own property as they are simply not able to manage it correctly.
This whole matter is just another example of why the council should not own property as they are simply not able to manage it correctly. Get a grip

5:52pm Mon 30 Dec 13

Mango man says...

Dorset is one of the greenest counties, there's no need to make such a fuss about a few chalets which make Weymouth look like Balamory
Dorset is one of the greenest counties, there's no need to make such a fuss about a few chalets which make Weymouth look like Balamory Mango man

7:11pm Mon 30 Dec 13

JamesYoung says...

shy talk wrote:
Me we all be privy to how much the total rent you pay for a chalet? Bailey25
Clearly not market rate, since there is a waiting list.
Retender them once a year.
[quote][p][bold]shy talk[/bold] wrote: Me we all be privy to how much the total rent you pay for a chalet? Bailey25[/p][/quote]Clearly not market rate, since there is a waiting list. Retender them once a year. JamesYoung

9:27am Tue 31 Dec 13

osmington4 says...

I expect they`ll get pulled down, bulldozed and built on. This seems to be the general way of doing things in our borough. Take Preston for example, along the main stretch where countless houses have been pulled down to make way for batches of soul-less flats......it`s very sad but I bet that`s what will happen here. Money talks.
I expect they`ll get pulled down, bulldozed and built on. This seems to be the general way of doing things in our borough. Take Preston for example, along the main stretch where countless houses have been pulled down to make way for batches of soul-less flats......it`s very sad but I bet that`s what will happen here. Money talks. osmington4

4:42pm Tue 31 Dec 13

westbaywonder says...

Well if its going at least sell the chalets off and buy the local kids some fireworks next year or buy some decent old style lights for the sea front.
Well if its going at least sell the chalets off and buy the local kids some fireworks next year or buy some decent old style lights for the sea front. westbaywonder

11:23pm Tue 31 Dec 13

Hayhoh says...

I am concerned that we keep some gren spaces. Add O2 to the air instead of Co2, which plants do.

There is a need to keep upen space for all to enjoy, not build on every postage sized parcel of land.

I remember what a lovely relief it was to me many years ago, to come out of work near there, and to meet greenery and oxygenated air; not to be met with tarmac and concrete and co2 emissions.

The good engendered from even small areas of green land is irrefutable.

Even land that appears to have little wildlife potential is often teeming with small creatures, beneficial to the earth itself and to birds, in and below the soil.

It even lets rain go down in the earth, where it is meant to be, replenishing fresh water reserves, instead of choking up drains and sewerage systems, and roadways, with run-off.

Development will surely follow in the event of a sell off. Not all 'progress' is written in concrete.
I am concerned that we keep some gren spaces. Add O2 to the air instead of Co2, which plants do. There is a need to keep upen space for all to enjoy, not build on every postage sized parcel of land. I remember what a lovely relief it was to me many years ago, to come out of work near there, and to meet greenery and oxygenated air; not to be met with tarmac and concrete and co2 emissions. The good engendered from even small areas of green land is irrefutable. Even land that appears to have little wildlife potential is often teeming with small creatures, beneficial to the earth itself and to birds, in and below the soil. It even lets rain go down in the earth, where it is meant to be, replenishing fresh water reserves, instead of choking up drains and sewerage systems, and roadways, with run-off. Development will surely follow in the event of a sell off. Not all 'progress' is written in concrete. Hayhoh

11:00am Wed 1 Jan 14

Get a grip says...

osmington4 wrote:
I expect they`ll get pulled down, bulldozed and built on. This seems to be the general way of doing things in our borough. Take Preston for example, along the main stretch where countless houses have been pulled down to make way for batches of soul-less flats......it`s very sad but I bet that`s what will happen here. Money talks.
Most of Preston is soul-less anyway so no real loss.

Any number of boring bungalows and poorly designed houses.
[quote][p][bold]osmington4[/bold] wrote: I expect they`ll get pulled down, bulldozed and built on. This seems to be the general way of doing things in our borough. Take Preston for example, along the main stretch where countless houses have been pulled down to make way for batches of soul-less flats......it`s very sad but I bet that`s what will happen here. Money talks.[/p][/quote]Most of Preston is soul-less anyway so no real loss. Any number of boring bungalows and poorly designed houses. Get a grip

12:43pm Wed 1 Jan 14

suzie122 says...

If you want to know how much people pay for a beach chalet look on the dorset for you web site - the income and expenditure for all the chalets makes interesting reading a very small sum is spent on the actual chalets they provide the council with a healthy income! The wording in the article 'various costs' needs to be investigated and I think I am right in saying if Greenhill is sold this will be a capital receipt and can not be used to keep your Council Tax bill from rising. People ask what happened to the Sydney Hall, Alexandra gardens, the open space around the backwater/swannery? Will GREENHILL be added to the list, as I see it its not a fight about chalets its a fight to keep GREENHILL as an OPEN SPACE
If you want to know how much people pay for a beach chalet look on the dorset for you web site - the income and expenditure for all the chalets makes interesting reading a very small sum is spent on the actual chalets they provide the council with a healthy income! The wording in the article 'various costs' needs to be investigated and I think I am right in saying if Greenhill is sold this will be a capital receipt and can not be used to keep your Council Tax bill from rising. People ask what happened to the Sydney Hall, Alexandra gardens, the open space around the backwater/swannery? Will GREENHILL be added to the list, as I see it its not a fight about chalets its a fight to keep GREENHILL as an OPEN SPACE suzie122

5:56pm Wed 1 Jan 14

bearhug says...

Take another look at the picture at the top of this article. Now turn back the clock 50 years. There used to be three rows of beach huts on the pebbles. Where has all that income gone? If people want a beach hut why aren't they hiring the white ones? They are reasonably priced, daily, weekly, or monthly or seasonally, but when I walk along the promenade in August they are 90% empty.
Shame on the Council for offloading the inner harbour - look at all the income someone is getting from there - another mistake.
Take another look at the picture at the top of this article. Now turn back the clock 50 years. There used to be three rows of beach huts on the pebbles. Where has all that income gone? If people want a beach hut why aren't they hiring the white ones? They are reasonably priced, daily, weekly, or monthly or seasonally, but when I walk along the promenade in August they are 90% empty. Shame on the Council for offloading the inner harbour - look at all the income someone is getting from there - another mistake. bearhug

3:52pm Thu 2 Jan 14

The Fish says...

bearhug wrote:
Take another look at the picture at the top of this article. Now turn back the clock 50 years. There used to be three rows of beach huts on the pebbles. Where has all that income gone? If people want a beach hut why aren't they hiring the white ones? They are reasonably priced, daily, weekly, or monthly or seasonally, but when I walk along the promenade in August they are 90% empty.
Shame on the Council for offloading the inner harbour - look at all the income someone is getting from there - another mistake.
Only part of the inner harbour has been off-loaded and this itself is on a lease (I believe 25 years) - the rest of the inner harbour (Westway Road and North Quay pontons) and commercial moorings are maintained by the council.
[quote][p][bold]bearhug[/bold] wrote: Take another look at the picture at the top of this article. Now turn back the clock 50 years. There used to be three rows of beach huts on the pebbles. Where has all that income gone? If people want a beach hut why aren't they hiring the white ones? They are reasonably priced, daily, weekly, or monthly or seasonally, but when I walk along the promenade in August they are 90% empty. Shame on the Council for offloading the inner harbour - look at all the income someone is getting from there - another mistake.[/p][/quote]Only part of the inner harbour has been off-loaded and this itself is on a lease (I believe 25 years) - the rest of the inner harbour (Westway Road and North Quay pontons) and commercial moorings are maintained by the council. The Fish

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