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Future still uncertain for old fire station site in Weymouth
THE future remains uncertain for Weymouth’s old fire station which crews moved out of more than a year ago.
The building was used during the Olympics for storage but there is no long-term plan for the prominent harbourside site on North Quay.
Firefighters moved to a new £8.5m state-of-the-art base in Radipole Lane incorporating a community fire station and safety centre in July 2011.
Dorset Fire and Rescue Service (DFRS) had been counting on selling the North Quay site to developer McCarthy & Stone which wanted to transform it into a retirement complex.
But the proposal, which was criticised by local residents, was rejected by Weymouth and Portland Borough Council and subsequently thrown out at a planning inquiry.
In a move seen as a triumph for people power, planning inspector John Wilde agreed with residents that knocking down the 1930s fire station and building 52 retirement apartments in its place would overwhelm the nearby character buildings of old Weymouth.
Mr Wilde also expressed concerns about the living conditions of people housed in the block which would range in height from three to five storeys and have a five-storey block at its centrepiece.
Local councillors described the design of the complex as looking like a ‘prison ship.’ DFRS had wanted to use the money from the sale of the site to fund a new road safety centre.
Dorset’s Chief Fire Officer Darran Gunter said brigade representatives had been meeting with planning officers at the borough council to discuss development options for North Quay.
He added: “We continue to work with planning officers to explore the best development of the site.”
Borough councillor Mike Byatt says he looks forward to something happening – but said the council should have a strategy for the development of the whole of the harbour.
He added: “Clearly it’s in everyone’s interests to see something progress at the old fire station.
“But it needs to be looked at as part of a joined-up strategy.
“We need to have a vision for the area and we need to engage with key players.”
Another borough councillor, John Birtwistle, said: “It’s such a prominent site and I would hope what is put forward is an asset to the harbourside.
“I would like to see the whole of the area around the inner harbour developed in a way that makes the town more attractive.”