RESIDENTS have spoken against proposals for a café housed in a large shipping container earmarked for Weymouth’s historic harbourside.
Councillors on the borough council’s planning and traffic committee will decide todaywhether to approve the ‘drastically enhanced’ steel container which would sit on the raised landing platform opposite the junction of Custom House Quay and Pilgrim’s Way.
The site would house a food retail unit, complete with bi-folding doors and ‘rustic, sand blasted, sawn timber…to create a fisherman’s shack feel’, according to the application. There would also be a roped-off decked seating area outside on the platform.
The committee is being recommended to approve the application subject to conditions and a council report says the business venture is to be welcomed.
But along with Weymouth Civic Society, 24 people – many of them residents of Custom House Quay and the neighbouring areas – have objected to the plans, saying a large shipping container would not be in keeping with the area’s historic surroundings.
Residents of nearby properties, including Grade II-listed Edward Court, also said that if the plans were approved it would cause a ‘disastrous’ loss of light and privacy, and would obstruct their view.
One resident sent a letter of objection to the council saying she had ‘sought professional advice’ and was told if the site was erected in that location it would result in the loss of an estimated £150,000 to the value of her property. She added she would ‘have no alternative’ than to ‘pursue action on a legal basis against the council’ if the plans were approved.
Others have questioned how it could be connected to waste and sewage systems and said the right of way would be obstructed for harbour forklifts and pedestrians, meaning the building could be a safety hazard.
Michael Thomas, a resident of Edward Court, said the plans ‘would be bad for the town’ and ‘make a mockery’ of the council’s commitment to preserving the heritage of nearby buildings.
He added: “There isn’t enough space for the building. Simple measurement shows… the walkway would be reduced to a width of less than one metre – which is hardly room for a pushchair with shopping, let alone people attempting to pass in both directions with children and dogs.”
Cllr Francis Drake said: “I’m with the residents down there who are complaining and I back them all the way because we don’t want it.
“It’s going to take the quality of life away for people in the flats opposite. It’s going to narrow that path a lot and push pedestrians towards the water, which isn’t safe. I’m not being snobby but there are people that come to Weymouth with very expensive yachts and they moor them there.
“Will they do that if there’s a big shipping container there?”
The applicant David Bennett could not be reached for comment.