WEYMOUTH councillors will not back up their West Dorset counterparts in their fight against a planning application for a Weymouth Football Stadium site.
Members of Weymouth and Portland Borough Council’s (WPBC) planning and traffic committee met on Wednesday to discuss a submission in respect of the appeal that has been lodged against West Dorset District Council’s (WDDC) refusal of the proposed Bob Lucas Stadium development.
The new proposal is to redevelop the existing football stadium, training pitch and car park with 150 to 170 dwellings, including affordable homes, public open space, a convenience store, access and parking.
WDDC refused an application by landowners Wessex Delivery last year and the process is going to the Planning Inspectorate with interested parties, including WPBC putting in submissions.
A report put before councillors recommended backing West Dorset’s refusal on the grounds that without a specific alternative, the redevelopment of the pitches at Wessex Stadium represented an ‘unacceptable loss of sports provision’ in the Weymouth area and would leave Weymouth Football Club with no dedicated ground.
Last week WDDC’s withdrew one of their objections to the plans – that the development was outside the existing development boundary. West Dorset councillors said that if a section 106 agreement or other form of undertaking to guarantee affordable housing could be drawn up, they could remove their objection on that basis too. That would only leave the objections about the loss of playing fields with no firm alternative plan.
This comes after Weymouth Football Club and developers Wessex Delivery announced they would be moving forward in a ‘spirit of partnership’ to explore all options in respect of the proposed Wessex Stadium development and a possible new stadium for the club.
In a statement from the club and developers they said they would be looking at other sites for the club, not just a potential site at Lodmoor.
WPBC’s planning and traffic committee decided not to back up WDDC’s position and instead agreed to put a submission into the planning inspectorate stating that they ‘support the provision of housing on the site and potential benefit it could bring to the local community.’ Cllr Christine James, pictured left, said the development could bring benefits to the residents of nearby areas, including Southill, in terms of improved infrastructure and facilities like bus services and health facilities.
“She added that the stadium land was not an amenity that the public used.
She said: “I’m going to argue it’s not a sports facility.
“It’s a football stadium used by a football team.”
Chairman of the committee Mark Tewkesbury said he agreed with Cllr James’s comments. He said: “It’s not a sports provision for Weymouth and Portland.”