BATTLE lines are being drawn up over a fight to build up to 170 homes on the site of Weymouth Football Club.

The issue whether to build at the Bob Lucas Stadium is set to be thrashed out at a public inquiry when a government planning inspector will hear arguments for and against redevelopment.

West Dorset District Council, which refused an application by developers Wessex Delivery LLP to build on the football club site last year, will argue the land in question falls outside its development boundary and that it has a ‘robust’ five-year land supply for housing.

Council chiefs will also say the plan would lead to loss of playing fields with no firm plan for any alternative.

The applicant, which owns land surrounding the Bob Lucas Stadium, believes it is a sustainable site and will deliver much-needed housing including affordable homes. It has set out its case arguing the principal of development in papers lodged with the council.

Preparations for a public inquiry come as the shareholders of Weymouth Football Club agree to continue talks with Wessex Delivery regarding a potential move to Lodmoor as part of a ‘community sports stadium’ plan.

That is a separate application by Wessex Delivery to build a new home for the Terras on an old landfill site off Preston Beach Road and it has sparked concern in the community due to it being close to the Lodmoor SSSI, country park and bird reserve.

Meanwhile, a date for a public inquiry into redevelopment at the Bob Lucas Stadium off Radipole Lane has yet to be fixed.

The refused outline planning application envisages 150-170 homes, public open space, convenience store and parking.

The entrance to the site falls within Weymouth and Portland’s boundary and the applicant is also appealing that part of the plan as it claims the borough council has failed to determine it in time.

Stating the case for development, the applicant says: “It will provide much-needed market and affordable housing and any harm arising is clearly outweighed by the considerable benefits.

“The development can be accommodated at the site and the relocation of WFC’s stadium can be secured through a planning obligation.”

West Dorset District Councillor for Chickerell and chairman of the planning committee, Ian Gardner, said: “The application was refused by officers under delegated powers taking account, amongst other things, of Sport England’s advice.”

He added: “One would expect the government inspector to determine the application in accordance with extant and emerging planning policies.”

Crucial vote in favour of talks

WEYMOUTH FC has yet to make an official statement about its emergency general meeting last weekend when shareholders met.

At the meeting, the majority (99.6 per cent) voted in favour of a decision to continue talks with landowners Wessex Delivery regarding a potential move to Lodmoor.

The club withdrew its objection to the Lodmoor stadium plan after discussions with Wessex Delivery led to an agreement that the club will not be forced to move from its current home without giving its consent. That prompted the EGM to gauge the views of shareholders.

The Lodmoor stadium plan has drawn many objections.

As well as scores of letters from residents, and businesses include the Sea Life Centre, objections have also received by Sport England, the RSPB and Dorset Police’s crime prevention team, who are concerned about effects on the neighbourhood.

This proposal has yet to be decided by Weymouth and Portland Borough Council.