COUNCIL chiefs have been criticised for lack of action on Weymouth’s harbour gateway by a group who say their redevelopment plans could ensure Condor Ferries remain sailing from the town.
Key industry figures, including developer Pete Halsall, secured a meeting with Weymouth and Portland Borough Council last year to discuss proposals to redevelop the Pavilion peninsula including building a new ferry terminal to retain Condor.
Mr Halsall, who has a track record in building sustainable developments all over the world, says he can raise between £150million and £200million to transform the area.
The group have heard nothing from the council since.
Now as the threat looms of Condor pulling out due to new berth requirements, the council has been accused of missing an opportunity.
Mr Halsall says it will require ‘bold and imaginative thinking’ to move forward.
Weymouth resident Jason West, who set up the meeting last year between the council and his friends Mr Halsall and architect Sean Griffiths, said it was a ‘disgrace’ there seemed to be no vision to improve the town.
Council officials met with Transport Secretary Stephen Hammond earlier this week to secure £10million to upgrade a harbour berth suitable for a larger ship Condor Ferries wants to use for its Channel Islands route. They were told government money will not be forthcoming.
Mr West said: “It’s bizarre the council sent a delegation to try to get £10million when last year they were informed by someone with a highly reputable track record that he could raise many millions to transform the place.
“I can’t work out why a seemingly cash strapped council would receive a proposal from a known player with bona fide green yet commercially viable credentials and do nothing to expedite further exploration of massive sustainable investment into Weymouth town centre.”
At a meeting last autumn, council officials said they were waiting for a masterplan to be drawn up and there has been no discussion since.
Mr West said: “There doesn’t seem to be any vision, no plan, no desire to improve the town. It’s a disgrace.
“People purporting to lead the borough are neglecting opportunities to engage with someone proposing something that will bring massive investment into the borough. It’s a missed opportunity.”
The Pavilion peninsula was previously earmarked for a £150m redevelopment by Howard Holdings but the firm failed to move on its plans in 2009.
Redevelopment of the site remains a long-term aim of the council.
Mr Halsall’s interest in the site was sparked by Mr West who led a campaign for the town to take a fresh look at the peninsula.
Mr Halsall said: “It is entirely possible to create a funding model that links the new ferry terminal to regeneration and development of the peninsula and to move forward with a progressive and viable approach based on a local vision and partnership approach.
“The regeneration process going forward will require bold, imaginative and integrated thinking on the part of councils to unleash local entrepreneurial spirit, talent and resources to create deliverable plans.”
COUNCIL WANTS DEVELOPMENT ON SITE
WEYMOUTH and Portland Borough Council wants to see development on the peninsula.
It has said it is happy to meet with potential partners on the basis that a proper process is followed – including taking account of a town centre masterplan to be drawn up as part of the local plan. But this has been delayed as the council has been asked to do more work on the local plan.
The council’s director of environment David Evans, pictured, said: “The pavilion peninsula is a key part of the emerging town centre masterplan. Unfortunately, and for reasons beyond our control, the masterplan has been delayed because of the need to undertake additional work on the joint local plan.
“The first stage of public consultation on the town centre master plan is scheduled to take place later this summer.
“In the meantime we are seeking external sources of grant funding for a new ferry berth.”