CAMPAIGNERS say there is still hope for a new road to prosperity after plans for a massive housing block which would have stood in its way were thrown out.
Planners refused permission for a residential and restaurant scheme earmarked for the Ferrybridge Inn on the edge of Weymouth.
But councillors deciding the fate of the pub site were not swayed by the fact the development would lie on the path of the Western Route, an as-yet unbuilt relief road linking Ferrybridge and Chickerell which would relieve pressure on the Wyke corridor.
They were more concerned about the ‘bulky’ design and overdevelopment on the site, the fact there was no provision for affordable housing and its close proximity to a sewage pumping station, which Wessex Water said could generate complaints.
People supporting the Western Route welcomed the decision which in effect keeps the dream for the road alive. Businesses, particularly on Portland, have long called for better road links and believe the Western Route would aid the island’s development.
Portland Port director Rupert Best said after the meeting he was pleased with the decision, adding: “I believe there should be widespread discussion by both borough and county on this route in the context of its social and economic significance and as part of a wide route from the sea to the M5.”
Dorset County Council says it has not been possible to reserve the Western Route in future plans because there’s no funding to build it and it’s unlikely to get permission because of its proximity to sensitive environmental sites.
Highways engineer Ian Madgwick said if the road scheme can be delivered in future the council would use compulsory purchase powers to acquire land.
The £10million development of four and five storeys proposed for the Ferrybridge Inn site would involve 30 residential units comprising flats and houses plus a restaurant/brasserie and open space.
A larger scheme for the site was withdrawn last year amid local concerns.
Despite changes and lengthy discussions between the applicant and council officers, nearby residents again objected to the size of the development, and these were taken on board by members of Weymouth and Portland Borough Council’s planning and traffic committee yesterday.
Planning consultant Brian Twigg representing residents of Passage Close said they had concerns about the visual impact of the building as other issues relating to disturbance.
Pru Bollam of Weymouth Civic Society said the proposed building’s ‘bulk and density was more appropriate to a town centre setting.’ She said the society supported the need for a road to relieve Portland Road.
Wyke councillor Geoff Petherick welcomed the proposal, which he said would be an ‘iconic’ building at a ‘high quality gateway site.’ Coun Kate Wheller suggested the Western Route was a ‘red herring’ and said councillors had an opportunity to ‘enhance a gateway to Portland’ by supporting the application.
Councillors dismiss ‘overdevelopment’ by SEVEN votes to THREE
BOROUGH councillors sitting on the planning committee had differing views on the scheme for the Ferrybridge Inn.
In the end, a proposal to delegate the plan for approval was rejected 7-3 with one abstention. Another vote followed in which seven councillors supported refusing the application.
Coun Anne Kenwood said it was ‘overdevelopment’ and said the Ferrybridge Inn should be listed because of its historical significance.
Coun Robbie Dunster called it an ‘exciting development and an ‘iconic’ building but Coun Christine James said it was a ‘big mass of bulk’ and called for more information about the flood risk.
Coun Kevin Hodder said there was no reason the road could be built and the Ferrybridge development could happen.
Coun Sandy West said the pub was an ‘iconic’ building at the ‘gateway to Portland’ and the scheme replacing it would be too big.
Coun Ian Roebuck said allowing a development with no affordable housing provision would set an ‘impossible precedent.’