Council faces major bill after losing battle over building at Weymouth's Curtis Fields

Government planning inspector Christina Downes

Government planning inspector Christina Downes

First published in News by

A COUNCIL is facing a major bill for costs after losing a battle over a plan to build houses on an open space in Weymouth.

Government planning inspector Christina Downes ruled in favour of Betterment Properties after hearing an appeal into the developer’s application to build on Curtis Fields at Lanehouse.

She rejected arguments put forward by Weymouth and Portland Borough Council and said the development would make an important impact on the shortfall of housing over the next five years.

Ms Downes also ordered the council to pay partial costs relating to the unnecessary expense incurred by Betterment defending highways and housing land supply matters during the appeal process.

The council has yet to be advised of the sum to be paid.

Council chiefs are ‘very disappointed’ with the decision on Curtis Fields and said it demonstrated how important it was to get a new local plan in place to guide future development.

Curtis Fields is allocated for development in future but currently it is regarded as an important local gap outside the development boundary.

Development now would be premature and prejudicial to the new local plan which has yet to be agreed, the council argued.

During the appeal, Ms Downes said the argument was whether the proposal was needed to meet the borough’s requirement for housing.

In her decision, she concluded the borough had a ‘severe and substantial shortfall’ in the supply of deliverable housing sites over the next five years.

She added: “In this respect it has an out-of-date development plan and the emerging local plan, whilst it has now been submitted for examination, is not sufficiently advanced to provide policies that can be relied upon in terms of housing land supply.”

Borough council environment spokesman Ian Roebuck said: “We are very disappointed with the decision on Curtis Fields. We do not agree with the inspector’s view of the local plan.

“This decision illustrates the importance of putting in place a local plan for the area as soon as possible. Otherwise we find ourselves in a ‘planning by appeal’ situation.

“This suits only developers and will see sites coming forward for development which have the support of neither the council nor local communities.

“We are taking all possible steps to get the joint local plan for Weymouth, Portland and West Dorset through to determination.”

An exploratory meeting into the new local plan, a joint document for Weymouth and West Dorset councils, was held last week due to a government inspector’s concerns over aspects of it. The inspector has yet to report back to the councils.

BETTERMENT’S application includes demolition of existing derelict farm buildings and the formation of 64 houses, 19 flats, a convenience store, and office together with alterations to the existing watercourse, drainage, highways and landscaping. It also sought outline permission for a second phase of development for a further 97 dwellings.

Development would be focused at the Fiveways end of the land.

Betterment bought the land from the Curtis family several years ago and in 2012 unveiled multi-million pound plans to develop the site following years of disputes.

It wants to build up to 600 homes on the land eventually.

Comments (19)

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8:52am Mon 10 Feb 14

jusphil says...

Just who gve them planning permission to build in the first place .....the planning comittee of the council WHY
Just who gve them planning permission to build in the first place .....the planning comittee of the council WHY jusphil
  • Score: -7

9:09am Mon 10 Feb 14

Weymouth Guy says...

This is a poor decision. Quoting from the DCC "Although Dorchester accounts for only 21% of the combined population, 40% of jobs are located there, which encourages commuting between the towns."
We do not need more housing in Weymouth, we need more jobs. The DCC own figures state that Dorchester has a population of 18280 and employment for 17400, Weymouth and Portland has 63530 population and 20600 jobs. We need more jobs in Weymouth and more housing in Dorchester. Further housing in Weymouth will only add to those commuting or provide for the economically inactive (retired, unemployed etc) as there are insufficient jobs here.
This is a poor decision. Quoting from the DCC "Although Dorchester accounts for only 21% of the combined population, 40% of jobs are located there, which encourages commuting between the towns." We do not need more housing in Weymouth, we need more jobs. The DCC own figures state that Dorchester has a population of 18280 and employment for 17400, Weymouth and Portland has 63530 population and 20600 jobs. We need more jobs in Weymouth and more housing in Dorchester. Further housing in Weymouth will only add to those commuting or provide for the economically inactive (retired, unemployed etc) as there are insufficient jobs here. Weymouth Guy
  • Score: 7

9:39am Mon 10 Feb 14

melcombe boy says...

jusphil wrote:
Just who gve them planning permission to build in the first place .....the planning comittee of the council WHY
The Council has never backed this scheme! That's why the battle ended up in the highest court of the land.
[quote][p][bold]jusphil[/bold] wrote: Just who gve them planning permission to build in the first place .....the planning comittee of the council WHY[/p][/quote]The Council has never backed this scheme! That's why the battle ended up in the highest court of the land. melcombe boy
  • Score: 11

10:18am Mon 10 Feb 14

Lanedor says...

Sorry to say this but I am pleased for Betterment - housing in the area is in short supply Despite people thinking that Curtis Fields was a lovely area it was nothing other than scrub land for many years and was used as a convenient dog toilet by many. I for one am pleased that Betterment bought the land and tidied it up as they have and turned it back into what it was during the 1960's farmland. I am sure that the housing and other areas they have planned will only be of benefit for the community and when in place will be well received.
Sorry to say this but I am pleased for Betterment - housing in the area is in short supply Despite people thinking that Curtis Fields was a lovely area it was nothing other than scrub land for many years and was used as a convenient dog toilet by many. I for one am pleased that Betterment bought the land and tidied it up as they have and turned it back into what it was during the 1960's farmland. I am sure that the housing and other areas they have planned will only be of benefit for the community and when in place will be well received. Lanedor
  • Score: 10

10:27am Mon 10 Feb 14

Tinker2 says...

This would appear to be the Councils own fault as their current development plan is clearly out of date and the view of the planning ispector is that the borough has a ‘severe and substantial shortfall’ in the supply of deliverable housing sites over the next five years. Thus plans put forward by private sector developers are likely not to be supported by the Council, as it's not in their existing plan. The result is costly, in terms of time, resources and money, for both developer and council in having to go the appeal route. In light of the Inspectors views, it would be reasonable to expect developers to win. The Council urgently needs to take on-board these findings and address the shortcomings of their development policy.
This would appear to be the Councils own fault as their current development plan is clearly out of date and the view of the planning ispector is that the borough has a ‘severe and substantial shortfall’ in the supply of deliverable housing sites over the next five years. Thus plans put forward by private sector developers are likely not to be supported by the Council, as it's not in their existing plan. The result is costly, in terms of time, resources and money, for both developer and council in having to go the appeal route. In light of the Inspectors views, it would be reasonable to expect developers to win. The Council urgently needs to take on-board these findings and address the shortcomings of their development policy. Tinker2
  • Score: 13

10:48am Mon 10 Feb 14

portland rebel says...

Lanedor wrote:
Sorry to say this but I am pleased for Betterment - housing in the area is in short supply Despite people thinking that Curtis Fields was a lovely area it was nothing other than scrub land for many years and was used as a convenient dog toilet by many. I for one am pleased that Betterment bought the land and tidied it up as they have and turned it back into what it was during the 1960's farmland. I am sure that the housing and other areas they have planned will only be of benefit for the community and when in place will be well received.
maybe, but i will bet it wont be for local people as they will not be affordable or social housing.
[quote][p][bold]Lanedor[/bold] wrote: Sorry to say this but I am pleased for Betterment - housing in the area is in short supply Despite people thinking that Curtis Fields was a lovely area it was nothing other than scrub land for many years and was used as a convenient dog toilet by many. I for one am pleased that Betterment bought the land and tidied it up as they have and turned it back into what it was during the 1960's farmland. I am sure that the housing and other areas they have planned will only be of benefit for the community and when in place will be well received.[/p][/quote]maybe, but i will bet it wont be for local people as they will not be affordable or social housing. portland rebel
  • Score: 1

11:18am Mon 10 Feb 14

Lanedor says...

portland rebel wrote:
Lanedor wrote:
Sorry to say this but I am pleased for Betterment - housing in the area is in short supply Despite people thinking that Curtis Fields was a lovely area it was nothing other than scrub land for many years and was used as a convenient dog toilet by many. I for one am pleased that Betterment bought the land and tidied it up as they have and turned it back into what it was during the 1960's farmland. I am sure that the housing and other areas they have planned will only be of benefit for the community and when in place will be well received.
maybe, but i will bet it wont be for local people as they will not be affordable or social housing.
I thought that all new developments had to have an element of social housing included within them. Also would have thought that all the housing will be for local people - who is going to buy a property unless they are already working in the area.
[quote][p][bold]portland rebel[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Lanedor[/bold] wrote: Sorry to say this but I am pleased for Betterment - housing in the area is in short supply Despite people thinking that Curtis Fields was a lovely area it was nothing other than scrub land for many years and was used as a convenient dog toilet by many. I for one am pleased that Betterment bought the land and tidied it up as they have and turned it back into what it was during the 1960's farmland. I am sure that the housing and other areas they have planned will only be of benefit for the community and when in place will be well received.[/p][/quote]maybe, but i will bet it wont be for local people as they will not be affordable or social housing.[/p][/quote]I thought that all new developments had to have an element of social housing included within them. Also would have thought that all the housing will be for local people - who is going to buy a property unless they are already working in the area. Lanedor
  • Score: 5

12:26pm Mon 10 Feb 14

DarioVerde says...

Sorry Lanedor,

But you obviously don't realise howmany people move to Weymouth based upon a house sale in London for example where they get crazy prices and then they come to Dorset to buy one of Betterments propertiesa as advertised on National websites. This just contributes tio prices going up.
Develpoers do not care about comunites , they care about profit.
Sorry Lanedor, But you obviously don't realise howmany people move to Weymouth based upon a house sale in London for example where they get crazy prices and then they come to Dorset to buy one of Betterments propertiesa as advertised on National websites. This just contributes tio prices going up. Develpoers do not care about comunites , they care about profit. DarioVerde
  • Score: 12

12:39pm Mon 10 Feb 14

elloello1980 says...

well done to the council for listening to the locals and sticking to their guns on rejecting this.

But in this Tory-profit government led country, we was never going to win.

more unaffordable and young mum houses to come then...
well done to the council for listening to the locals and sticking to their guns on rejecting this. But in this Tory-profit government led country, we was never going to win. more unaffordable and young mum houses to come then... elloello1980
  • Score: -2

1:24pm Mon 10 Feb 14

Caption Sensible says...

There are over 4,500 people on the housing list. The council's response to the requirement for new homes has been woeful. That is why they lost this case on court. Weymouth cannot ignore this issue any longer.
There are over 4,500 people on the housing list. The council's response to the requirement for new homes has been woeful. That is why they lost this case on court. Weymouth cannot ignore this issue any longer. Caption Sensible
  • Score: 3

2:32pm Mon 10 Feb 14

weymouthfox says...

So much for the Conservative localism agenda. Government inspector over-rules the local council.
So much for the Conservative localism agenda. Government inspector over-rules the local council. weymouthfox
  • Score: 3

3:25pm Mon 10 Feb 14

Dont JustSitThereVote says...

Lanedor wrote:
Sorry to say this but I am pleased for Betterment - housing in the area is in short supply Despite people thinking that Curtis Fields was a lovely area it was nothing other than scrub land for many years and was used as a convenient dog toilet by many. I for one am pleased that Betterment bought the land and tidied it up as they have and turned it back into what it was during the 1960's farmland. I am sure that the housing and other areas they have planned will only be of benefit for the community and when in place will be well received.
As I have said before... more second homes and retirement flats. There will be no affordable housing here.

Although this could be used as a prime example of how a local developer can work with the housing authorities to help house people who can not afford the crippling rents being charged by greedy landlords, not to mention the speculative buyers - only to sell them months later at a good 25% of what they paid.

The average house price in this development will be well in excess of 150k so out of the reach of the average wage earner in Weymouth unless they want to fuel Osbournes borrow ourselves out of debt campaign.
[quote][p][bold]Lanedor[/bold] wrote: Sorry to say this but I am pleased for Betterment - housing in the area is in short supply Despite people thinking that Curtis Fields was a lovely area it was nothing other than scrub land for many years and was used as a convenient dog toilet by many. I for one am pleased that Betterment bought the land and tidied it up as they have and turned it back into what it was during the 1960's farmland. I am sure that the housing and other areas they have planned will only be of benefit for the community and when in place will be well received.[/p][/quote]As I have said before... more second homes and retirement flats. There will be no affordable housing here. Although this could be used as a prime example of how a local developer can work with the housing authorities to help house people who can not afford the crippling rents being charged by greedy landlords, not to mention the speculative buyers - only to sell them months later at a good 25% of what they paid. The average house price in this development will be well in excess of 150k so out of the reach of the average wage earner in Weymouth unless they want to fuel Osbournes borrow ourselves out of debt campaign. Dont JustSitThereVote
  • Score: 3

8:51pm Mon 10 Feb 14

cosmick says...

melcombe boy wrote:
jusphil wrote:
Just who gve them planning permission to build in the first place .....the planning comittee of the council WHY
The Council has never backed this scheme! That's why the battle ended up in the highest court of the land.
This was a Planning matter not a court. i belive that if homes are newly built they should be for local people who can afford to buy them. As someone said peopl;e from other areas come and buy here and retire, they wont be buying these houses they will not want to live in a mixed houseing area.
For familys who need to rent i belive they should be affordable rents that working familys can afford. That means private landlords charge less or sell there houses because the rent will not cover the Mortgage. this will mean houses cost less and more working people have a better chance in life.
[quote][p][bold]melcombe boy[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]jusphil[/bold] wrote: Just who gve them planning permission to build in the first place .....the planning comittee of the council WHY[/p][/quote]The Council has never backed this scheme! That's why the battle ended up in the highest court of the land.[/p][/quote]This was a Planning matter not a court. i belive that if homes are newly built they should be for local people who can afford to buy them. As someone said peopl;e from other areas come and buy here and retire, they wont be buying these houses they will not want to live in a mixed houseing area. For familys who need to rent i belive they should be affordable rents that working familys can afford. That means private landlords charge less or sell there houses because the rent will not cover the Mortgage. this will mean houses cost less and more working people have a better chance in life. cosmick
  • Score: 4

10:28pm Mon 10 Feb 14

melcombe boy says...

cosmick wrote:
melcombe boy wrote:
jusphil wrote:
Just who gve them planning permission to build in the first place .....the planning comittee of the council WHY
The Council has never backed this scheme! That's why the battle ended up in the highest court of the land.
This was a Planning matter not a court. i belive that if homes are newly built they should be for local people who can afford to buy them. As someone said peopl;e from other areas come and buy here and retire, they wont be buying these houses they will not want to live in a mixed houseing area.
For familys who need to rent i belive they should be affordable rents that working familys can afford. That means private landlords charge less or sell there houses because the rent will not cover the Mortgage. this will mean houses cost less and more working people have a better chance in life.
I'm not saying that I was against the decision to build the houses. I was just stating fact!
I actually support the scheme. It is one of the few spaces left in the Borough suitable for housing as Weymouth is luckily blessed with plenty of open space.
I am not a fan of the local blame culture that continually wags its finger at the council for all local woes, but with current planning guidelines dictated by central Government, it was a court case they were never going to win. A very silly waste of local funds.
[quote][p][bold]cosmick[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]melcombe boy[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]jusphil[/bold] wrote: Just who gve them planning permission to build in the first place .....the planning comittee of the council WHY[/p][/quote]The Council has never backed this scheme! That's why the battle ended up in the highest court of the land.[/p][/quote]This was a Planning matter not a court. i belive that if homes are newly built they should be for local people who can afford to buy them. As someone said peopl;e from other areas come and buy here and retire, they wont be buying these houses they will not want to live in a mixed houseing area. For familys who need to rent i belive they should be affordable rents that working familys can afford. That means private landlords charge less or sell there houses because the rent will not cover the Mortgage. this will mean houses cost less and more working people have a better chance in life.[/p][/quote]I'm not saying that I was against the decision to build the houses. I was just stating fact! I actually support the scheme. It is one of the few spaces left in the Borough suitable for housing as Weymouth is luckily blessed with plenty of open space. I am not a fan of the local blame culture that continually wags its finger at the council for all local woes, but with current planning guidelines dictated by central Government, it was a court case they were never going to win. A very silly waste of local funds. melcombe boy
  • Score: 3

10:00am Tue 11 Feb 14

portlandboy says...

For the sake of a few thousand quid and the planning chiefs drawing up a plan, they will cost us all a whole lot of money.
Although the time-frame for local authorities to adopt a new local plan was short, many have got off their backsides and met the deadline. Weymouth did not, yet their legal team saw fit to press on regardless of that fact - and lost their appeal partly because of it.
There are a number of local authorities who have not adopted a new local plan and are, as a consequence, in this position. If I know this, why on earth did the Council's legal team not consider it? Did they hope that the inspector wouldn't notice?
Just another foreseeable waste of public funds, to be made good by those who can least afford to fill the gap - US.
For the sake of a few thousand quid and the planning chiefs drawing up a plan, they will cost us all a whole lot of money. Although the time-frame for local authorities to adopt a new local plan was short, many have got off their backsides and met the deadline. Weymouth did not, yet their legal team saw fit to press on regardless of that fact - and lost their appeal partly because of it. There are a number of local authorities who have not adopted a new local plan and are, as a consequence, in this position. If I know this, why on earth did the Council's legal team not consider it? Did they hope that the inspector wouldn't notice? Just another foreseeable waste of public funds, to be made good by those who can least afford to fill the gap - US. portlandboy
  • Score: 3

11:24am Tue 11 Feb 14

melcombe boy says...

Dont JustSitThereVote wrote:
Lanedor wrote:
Sorry to say this but I am pleased for Betterment - housing in the area is in short supply Despite people thinking that Curtis Fields was a lovely area it was nothing other than scrub land for many years and was used as a convenient dog toilet by many. I for one am pleased that Betterment bought the land and tidied it up as they have and turned it back into what it was during the 1960's farmland. I am sure that the housing and other areas they have planned will only be of benefit for the community and when in place will be well received.
As I have said before... more second homes and retirement flats. There will be no affordable housing here.

Although this could be used as a prime example of how a local developer can work with the housing authorities to help house people who can not afford the crippling rents being charged by greedy landlords, not to mention the speculative buyers - only to sell them months later at a good 25% of what they paid.

The average house price in this development will be well in excess of 150k so out of the reach of the average wage earner in Weymouth unless they want to fuel Osbournes borrow ourselves out of debt campaign.
By law there has to be 30% social housing!
[quote][p][bold]Dont JustSitThereVote[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Lanedor[/bold] wrote: Sorry to say this but I am pleased for Betterment - housing in the area is in short supply Despite people thinking that Curtis Fields was a lovely area it was nothing other than scrub land for many years and was used as a convenient dog toilet by many. I for one am pleased that Betterment bought the land and tidied it up as they have and turned it back into what it was during the 1960's farmland. I am sure that the housing and other areas they have planned will only be of benefit for the community and when in place will be well received.[/p][/quote]As I have said before... more second homes and retirement flats. There will be no affordable housing here. Although this could be used as a prime example of how a local developer can work with the housing authorities to help house people who can not afford the crippling rents being charged by greedy landlords, not to mention the speculative buyers - only to sell them months later at a good 25% of what they paid. The average house price in this development will be well in excess of 150k so out of the reach of the average wage earner in Weymouth unless they want to fuel Osbournes borrow ourselves out of debt campaign.[/p][/quote]By law there has to be 30% social housing! melcombe boy
  • Score: 2

9:01pm Tue 11 Feb 14

Flinty Portlander says...

The Echo comment quoting Clr Roebuck last night says it all on why this Council wastes our money. An out of date plan still being referred to as having boundaries, when clearly 3 Inspectors have now chastised the Council at different Appeals and Lo "we do not agree with the findings". Going to High Court are we at great expense ? Same Clr who dealt with Condor berth knowing full well the new generation Condors are bigger and will not fit on the ( over-run cost) new berth. More costs to be met by us.
Time to have a clear out of the fossils methinks or this really is the Jurassic Coast !
The Echo comment quoting Clr Roebuck last night says it all on why this Council wastes our money. An out of date plan still being referred to as having boundaries, when clearly 3 Inspectors have now chastised the Council at different Appeals and Lo "we do not agree with the findings". Going to High Court are we at great expense ? Same Clr who dealt with Condor berth knowing full well the new generation Condors are bigger and will not fit on the ( over-run cost) new berth. More costs to be met by us. Time to have a clear out of the fossils methinks or this really is the Jurassic Coast ! Flinty Portlander
  • Score: 2

11:50pm Tue 11 Feb 14

Harpya Orkinus says...

Scrub land is invaluable for Wildlife, particularly warblers and shrikes on passage. It is the mania for what those afflicted with the Gardeners' Mentality would call tidiness that is, together with changed farming practices, responsible for the present catastrophic decline in numbers of even our commonest birds.
As for building on what many believed to be the town's green, I think you will find that places in the desirable Southwest who demonstrate a readiness to fill demands for housing - frequently from people whose roots lie outwith the county, or even the country - can expect hordes more incomers, also demanding nice houses. As long as you fill the demand, it will continue forever, without cease. Fifty years from now, Weymouth and its environs will more nearly resemble somewhere unsavory, such as Brixton or Notting Hill, rather than the pleasant seaside town we have all loved and cherished for so many decades - and THAT will be down to those reprehensibles commonly known as business leaders, whose every daily thought may be summed up as Economic Growth and Creating Jobs. Yeah - bravo - YOU can look five or ten years into the future for your short-term profits - SOME people are accustomed to looking fifty or a hundred or even FIVE hundred years into the future. We ignore the words of that truly great Amerikan writer, Edward Abbey, at our peril: Unlimited growth is the philosophy of the cancer cell....
Scrub land is invaluable for Wildlife, particularly warblers and shrikes on passage. It is the mania for what those afflicted with the Gardeners' Mentality would call tidiness that is, together with changed farming practices, responsible for the present catastrophic decline in numbers of even our commonest birds. As for building on what many believed to be the town's green, I think you will find that places in the desirable Southwest who demonstrate a readiness to fill demands for housing - frequently from people whose roots lie outwith the county, or even the country - can expect hordes more incomers, also demanding nice houses. As long as you fill the demand, it will continue forever, without cease. Fifty years from now, Weymouth and its environs will more nearly resemble somewhere unsavory, such as Brixton or Notting Hill, rather than the pleasant seaside town we have all loved and cherished for so many decades - and THAT will be down to those reprehensibles commonly known as business leaders, whose every daily thought may be summed up as Economic Growth and Creating Jobs. Yeah - bravo - YOU can look five or ten years into the future for your short-term profits - SOME people are accustomed to looking fifty or a hundred or even FIVE hundred years into the future. We ignore the words of that truly great Amerikan writer, Edward Abbey, at our peril: Unlimited growth is the philosophy of the cancer cell.... Harpya Orkinus
  • Score: 1

7:18pm Fri 14 Feb 14

JACKC says...

Lets just do away with the planning dept and put Stewkesbury in charge.... oh I forgot .... he already is.
Lets just do away with the planning dept and put Stewkesbury in charge.... oh I forgot .... he already is. JACKC
  • Score: -1

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