A MULTI-MILLION pound housing development for a controversial open space in Weymouth has been un-veiled.

After years of bitter disputes, developer Betterment Properties is ready to start moving on its plans to build up to 600 homes on Curtis Fields, an open area of land near Lanehouse.

Just under half of the 38-hectare site at the southern end towards Wyke Road will be given to public recreation and nature conservation areas. This includes part of the area registered as a Town Green which has it status revoked following a long court battle.

Betterment fought the status because it restricted what a developer could do on the site.

The plan, which it is claimed will help to meet housing needs over the next decade and support future growth, envisage a sizeable percentage of affordable units as well as shops, cycle and walkways, open spaces and a new access to Augustine’s Primary School. The site will be accessed by new roads from Chickerell Road near Fiveways and Lanehouse Rocks Road. Proposals to alleviate flooding in the area are also included.

It will take its proposals for Curtis Fields, also known as Markham and Little Francis, to the public next week and hopes to start work within the next 18 months. Development will come in phases.

The consultation is launched as Weymouth and Portland Borough Council asks the public for views on the Draft Local Plan, a blueprint for future development.

The council aims to secure appropriate future housing supply for the Weymouth and Portland area and has identified Curtis Fields as one of the areas for residential development although its allocation for Curtis Fields is up to 500 homes.

Betterment has been keen to develop proposals for housing since it bought the farm site from the Curtis family several years ago.

It hopes its development will create a positive impact for existing residents while ensuring environmental and recreational benefits.

Malcolm Brown from Sibbett Gregory planning consultants which is acting on behalf of Betterment said: “The land has been identified for housing in the Local Plan and what we’re proposing is the flesh on the bones.

“It’s not just a bog-standard development. We’re employing probably the best architects in Dorset, Western Design, to come up with the plans.

“We will seek views in a two-day exhibition and will see if plans need to be modified before preparing a planning application.”

He added: “The beauty of this site is its easy access to the town centre as well as the Granby Industrial Estate and local facilities.”

Residents and other interested parties are invited to attend a pre-application consultation event, where draft proposals showing Betterment’s ideas for Curtis Fields can be viewed. There will be the opportunity to make comments and suggestions.

It will be at Weymouth Community Safety Centre (new fire station) in Radipole Lane from 11am to 8pm of Friday, June 22 and 10am to 5pm on Saturday, June 23.

There's a huge excess of housing

THE Society for the Protection of Markham and Little Francis has been fighting to protect the area’s Town Green status.

The status was revoked but the society is waiting to hear if an application to appeal to the Supreme Court, challenging a decision of the Court of Appeal, will be allowed.

Chairman Gill Taylor said she was ‘confused’ as to why Betterment was unveiling plans now given the court challenge and the fact the Draft Local Plan was just going to consultation.

Mrs Taylor, who is also a borough councillor, said: “It is by no means certain this area will be allocated for housing.”

She added: “There are arguments on both sides for development.

“There’s a huge excess of housing in the Local Plan.”

Lanehouse resident Mike Prince, a former tractor driver who used to work on Curtis Fields, said: “I am opposed to development there. There’s always been a greenbelt between Wyke and Weymouth and it should stay that way.”

Former county councillor for the area Mike Byatt, now a borough councillor for Westham, said: “There’s clearly a tension between residents keen to see the site protected, the need for future housing as part of the local plan and what the developer would like.”