IDEAS are ‘welcome’ for the future of a community area which has been at the heart of a campaign to keep it in public hands.

Weymouth and Portland Borough Council has now opened the tendering process for community groups or businesses to takeover and run Greenhill Gardens chalets, Esplanade chalets, the Greenhill Play Gardens chalets, the Greenhill Public Conveniences and the associated recreational facilities.

It comes after a petition attracted thousands of signatures to keep the area in public hands, forcing the council to address the issue at an open meeting.

Councillors at Management Committee in July agreed to look at two options.

These are to invite commercial organisations to tender for a 125 year lease on commercial terms and invite any community group to submit proposals for a community asset transfer on a 35 year lease.

Briefholder for community facilities Ian Bruce said he hopes both groups and local businesses won’t be afraid to come forward with new or ‘radical’ solutions.

“I very much hope that everybody will look at the opportunities available and not be afraid to come forward with solutions – radical or traditional,” he said. I am keen to see a community group making good progress. But I don’t in any way rule out local businesses who are already involved in similar projects. The council does have an open mind.”

He said the council has tried to make the process as unrestrictive as possible so that anybody ‘can come forward with solutions that they thing are going to work best’. Cllr Bruce emphasised that the gardens will remain under council control.

It is understood that one or two community groups have expressed interest in submitting plans for a takeover. Sue Bray, chairman of the Chalet Users Community Group said a meeting will be held shortly to discuss the possibility of a submission.

Mrs Bray said she could not comment further but would inform readers of the Echo as soon as a decision has been made.

Organisations have from now until noon on October 16 to submit their proposals or tenders.

Anyone interested in submitting a tender for the Greenhill Chalets and associated facilities is invited to come to viewing days on Wednesday, September 3, 10 and 24 between 10am and 2pm.

Organisations have from now until noon on October 16 to submit their proposals or tenders.

‘Award a lease to the best proposal’

Council Finance and Assets spokesman Cllr Colin Huckle said: “The Greenhill Chalets and the associated recreational facilities are on a prime spot on our seafront and are a popular attraction for both residents and visitors.

“Selling the chalets will secure and enhance the supply of beach chalets in Weymouth, bringing back to use the closed Esplanade chalets, permitting development of additional chalets and ensuring an improved infrastructure surrounding the chalets including the retention of recreational facilities as well as viewing terrace. We are asking community groups and private organisations to submit their ideas for their proposed plans for the site.

“After the tender and proposal submission closing date the ideas will be looked at and we will award a lease to the best proposal if any of the plans submitted are suitable.”