DEVELOPER Howard Holdings today hit back at critics who say the new Pavilion complex in Weymouth will not have enough public spaces.

The developer claims that images of the £100 million plans show the redeveloped Ocean Room will have as much usable space as its predecessor.

The new comments come before a full meeting of Weymouth and Portland Borough Council debates the masterplan at the Pavilion on Thursday. The images also reveal a public square and an amphitheatre with 400 seats.

Howard Holdings admitted to being stung by recent criticism of the plans by residents who claim there will be too many private flats, restricted access, loss of public spaces, a smaller Ocean Room and the destruction of views across Weymouth Bay.

But the company says the scheme has been drawn up to meet the wishes of Weymouth and Portland Borough Council - not the interests of developers.

The existing Ocean Room, which drains significant subsidies from the council, is due to be replaced by a smaller, 3,000 square feet, community performance space on the first floor of the building.

But Gary Charman, regional director of Howard Holdings, says the new room makes better use of a smaller space and will retain a dance floor of the same size.

He said: "Letters have been received that demonstrate concern over the size of the proposed performance space. The images show the usable space in the existing Ocean Room is the same as the arts and performance space in the Pavilion master plan.

"The proposed arts and performance space will have acoustic separation, enabling it to be used as a performance venue at the same time as the main theatre auditorium."

The plans also show an outdoor amphitheatre, which can seat 400 people. If the amphitheatre is used as the stage up to 1,200 could watch a performance from the beach. The plans also show a public square where events could be held, such as ice-skating and exhibitions.

A 48-stall market could be sited there.

Mr Charman said Howard Holdings took advice from the council in designing the plans. He said: "There are a number of hot topics associated with this project and perhaps we haven't done the best job in presenting the plans to the public.

"These drawings are intended to clarify what the plans are as they stand - no final scheme has been decided yet.

"The master plan is the council's master plan - it's not ours - we're the development partner.

"That's why we didn't present the plans at the meeting last week, it was for the council's planning officer to do that."

The council says it will consider management options in due course.

A full council meeting to debate the master plan is due to be held at the Pavilion on February 8.

Click here to see more plans of the site.