A new vision could breathe new life into a prominent Weymouth site, the Dorset Echo can exclusively reveal.

Dorset Coastal Forum has submitted a bid to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s Coastal Communities Fund (CCF) for £517,000 to create a new ‘gateway’ to transform the rail Weymouth railway station into a revamped hub.

Under the project proposals, which is expected to cost around £900,000 in total, the street scene and public spaces around the station aim to be enhanced to create a setting to inspire greater visitor dwell time to support local businesses in Weymouth as well as improve the look and feel of the station forecourt and public realm spaces around Commercial Road and King Street.

Alongside this, the project aims to improve pedestrian flow from Swannery car park and commercial areas into the town centre as well as develop a section of disused (closed) railway branch line into an attractive ‘pocket park’ which links commercial areas and celebrates the site’s railway heritage.

The Dorset Coastal Forum says this will allow visitors arriving at the train station and Swannery car park to have better direct links to the seafront, harbourside and town centre, therefore connecting them to and supporting local businesses.

Partners in the project include Network Rail, South Western Railway, Dorset County Council, Weymouth and Portland Borough Council and the Melcombe Regis Board.

In the report, which has been seen by the Dorset Echo, Dorset Coastal Forum added that the proposals would “support the growth and development of Weymouth town centre as a vibrant and dynamic centre, which is the hub of the local community”.

Melcombe Regis councillor Francis Drake said: “The railway station needs a lot of money spent on it to bring it up to standard.”

He stressed that the town desperately needed investment or else it would “die” adding that any money invested in the town would be welcomed.

Fellow Melcombe Regis councillor Tia Roos added: “It is very much needed, it will certainly make the area much more appealing as visitors step off the train.”

She added that the plans will also benefit local businesses and make the town more appealing to younger people.

South Dorset MP Richard Drax said: “This is something that I have been pushing for years.

“The area outside the station could be a bus and taxi station, it’s not the most attractive currently.

“Ambition here is what we desperately need.”

Vice President of Weymouth and Portland Chamber of Commerce, Craig Oakes, said: “The train station area is the first impression that many visitors to Weymouth get and it is only right that it should be a fantastic start to their visit here. Hopefully they will then recommend the town to their friends and family to visit as well. All great for the local economy."

Ian Girling, chief executive of Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “First impressions are incredibly important for tourist destinations such as Weymouth and Portland.

“The railway station is not only the first point of arrival for visitors arriving by train, it is also on the main route to the seafront from the long stay car park nearby.

“Any improvements to create a more attractive and welcoming setting at the railway station can help improve the image of the town and in turn support the local economy.

“It is important that businesses are given their chance to have say about the plans, and that any improvements benefit businesses both near the train station and further into the town.

“Improvements are much needed and must be considered alongside any other measures to make the train station a more pleasant area and for the wider regeneration of the town to ensure there is a co-ordinated approach.”

Claudia Moore, chief operating officer at Weymouth BID, said she wished Dorset Coastal Forum luck with its well-thought application. She added that the BID supports it.

Cllr Jeff Cant, leader of Weymouth and Portland Borough Council and spokesman for finance and assets said: “Weymouth train station is the gateway to the town and one of the first areas that many visitors encounter. The station area is very much part of our future regeneration aspirations and anything that begins the process early is absolutely welcome. The application is in the very early stages, but we fully support this expression of interest in improving and enhancing the site and wish the project team every success with their application.”