WEYMOUTH’s eyesore gas holder is finally set to be demolished amid plans to clear redundant buildings near the inner harbour for redevelopment.
The derelict electricity switching station nearby is also set to come down as part of a separate plan to build houses on the land.
The landmark gas holder, or gasometer, off Westwey Road dates from the 1950s and is the last of three to be cleared from the old gasworks site. Such structures are no longer required due to developments in gas pipe technology.
It has long been the vision of Weymouth and Portland Borough Council to see the site redeveloped for housing and site owners have previously said the land would be sold for appropriate uses.
But what happens there is in the hands of Southern Gas Networks (SGN).
For now, the company has only notified the council of its intention to demolish the redundant structure. Any development proposals will be the subject of a planning application.
No planning permission is needed to knock it down but SGN must tell the council how it will be demolished, said planning officer Chris Moscrop.
A SGN spokesman said: “Gas holders are no longer an efficient way to store gas.
“We have applied to demolish the holder but have not had a reply yet. “Until we get a response, we’re not in a position to comment further about the possible future use of the site.”
Transformation of the inner harbour began with the marina and harbourside housing. Now work is progressing to build retirement flats on the old fire station site and housing is envisaged for North Quay once council staff move out.
And a plan has now been lodged to build 25 homes at the former SEB depot between Westwey Road and Granville Road. It would see the demolition of the former switchgear building.
The borough’s retired planning chief Richard Burgess, now a planning consultant, said he regarded the gas holder’s presence as ‘unfinished business’ as the site had been allocated for housing in the local plan for many years.
He said: “At the time the site operators said the gas holder still had life in it and it wouldn’t be removed unless alternative gas storage was provided or it came to the end of its life. Presumably that has now happened.”
Weymouth resident Mike Kelly, another former planning official, said he would be pleased to see it go. He said: “I’m a fan of listed and historic buildings but not this.
“With the housing plan on the old electricity site alongside this it’s a step in the right direction at long last to getting Westwey Road sorted out.”
County councillor for Westham David Harris said: “The gas holder is an eyesore that spoils the beautiful views of our harbour.
“The only problem is that it’s going to be quite difficult to build on because the land will be polluted, so it is important this is considered.
“It would be good to see an indoor facility built in Weymouth, but that would ideally be on the other side of the harbour.”
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SEPARATE to the gas holder site, Landmark Estates has submitted a planning application to the borough council for a new residential development at the former electricity depot, now vacant and derelict.
Planning consultant Phil Holdcroft of Savills, acting for Landmark Estates said: “The scheme proposes 25 dwellings, comprising a mix of family town-house style dwellings with gardens and apartments overlooking the marina. Landmark Estates has made a commitment to meet the council’s requirements for 40 per cent of the homes to be affordable.
“A carefully considered design and layout enhances the areas established identity. It will provide new pedestrian links between Westwey Road and Granville and Stavordale Roads.
“We believe this traditional inspired design will be a real asset to Westham and have been delighted to assist Landmark Estates in redeveloping this vacant and previously developed parcel of land.”