WEST Dorset MP Oliver Letwin has waded into the debate about redevelopment at Weymouth Football Club, saying consideration must be given to local development plans.
The issue is set to be heard at a public inquiry in November this year after landowners Wessex Delivery appealed a decision by West Dorset District Council to refuse planning permission to build up to 170 homes.
The appeal date has been set for November 18 at South Walks House in Dorchester.
The appeal is set to be considered within the same timeframe of the new draft Local Plan, which has been jointly submitted by West Dorset District Council and Weymouth and Portland Borough Council.
This draft had been changed in order to meet the requirements for supply of housing.
At the inquiry, the council will argue the redevelopment goes against planning policies and that without a specific alternative, the redevelopment of the pitches at the Bob Lucas Stadium represented an ‘unacceptable loss of sports provision’ in the area.
The football club site falls within Mr Letwin’s constituency and he has written to the Planning Inspectorate.
Supporting the council’s case, Mr Letwin said the Planning Inspectorate should pay attention to the revised new draft Local Plan when making a decision with regards to the plan and ‘give real weight’ to it.
Speaking to the Echo, he said: “The local plan has been through various iterations. The new draft has just been issued for consultation.
“There will be a period of consultation on it and then a further examination by the Inspectorate.
“That’s in various stages and will take however long it takes.”
In his letter, Mr Letwin also asks the Planning Inspectorate to take full account of the effect on local leisure facilities of the proposal to provide housing on the site.
Adding to this, Mr Letwin said to the Echo: “It’s important that this part of Dorset should have appropriate leisure facilities and that is something the Local Plan also considers.
“I’m hoping the inspector will see we need this to be a leisure facility.”
As part of the Bob Lucas stadium development, the proposal is to redevelop the existing football stadium, training pitch and car park with 150-170 dwellings, including affordable homes, public open space, a convenience store, access and parking.
In a separate application yet to be considered Wessex Delivery wants to provide a new home for Weymouth Football Club on a site off Preston Beach Road at Lodmoor.