WEYMOUTH’S harbourside could be transformed into an al fresco dining area.
It’s among the proposals being considered as part of Weymouth and Portland Borough Council’s parking revolution. A question and answer session for people to find out more is being organised.
A seating area would be established along Custom House Quay in place of the one-hour free parking spaces.
Council parking boss Chris Graves wants to stop the habit of people driving around looking for free spaces, to make the area safer and free up the quay for people to enjoy.
Pay and display charges in council car parks are being slashed as part of the measures. The move to take away free spaces has proved controversial with some residents and businesses, which say convenient free spaces near the town centre are essential.
Bar and restaurant owner Gary Record welcomes the idea of outdoor seating as he believes Weymouth should be making the most of its beautiful assets such as the harbourside which he described as a ‘jewel’.
Providing tables and chairs would enhance the dining experience for customers of harbourside venues all year round, he says. Mr Record hopes alternative parking can be provided nearby and arrangements made for people who work on the harbourside.
He said: “It’s a controversial issue to take away parking spaces but what I really think we should have is al fresco dining. The harbour is our jewel and it’s a shame that people can’t sit next to the waterfront enjoying a coffee, or a glass or wine and a meal.
“Cafe culture happens all over Europe but we don’t seem to have it here. The harbour is the perfect spot for this to happen. Even on a January day when the sun is out people want to sit outside and it’s such a shame they can’t do it near the water in Weymouth.”
With wife Ali, Mr Record owns the Lazy Lizard venue on the Esplanade.
Last year they also bought the lease for the former George Inn on Custom House Quay and relaunched it as the George Bar’n’Grill.
He said: “It seems crazy that we’ve got our harbour and you have cars parked all the way along it when there could be seating. It will only enhance the area.”
BOROUGH transport spokesman Christine James stressed the idea was only a proposal and people will have a chance to make their views known when a traffic regulation order is published advertising the proposal.
If there are a certain number of objections, it will go before the planning committee for decision.
Coun James said a question and answer session was being organised at Weymouth Pavilion Ocean Room on Thursday, January 30 at 7.30pm. Residents, traders and hoteliers are invited.