A decision is due soon on funding for a plan which could breathe new life into a prominent Weymouth site.

The Echo revealed in June how the Dorset Coastal Forum 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 businesses 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.

A backlog of applications to the CCF has delayed funding decisions – it is anticipated an announcement will be made by the government in October. The announcement is only related to stage one of the project, which if successful, will prompt a round of consultation before stage two is progressed.

Bridget Betts, coordinator of the Dorset Coastal Forum recently spoke at the House of Lords Select Committee on Regenerating Seaside Towns and Communities which launched an inquiry into the challenges facing seaside towns and cities.

Lord Bassam of Brighton, chairman of the committee, said: “Seaside towns and communities face a range of complex challenges.

“Our Committee will explore issues such as housing, transport, education, health and the local economy.

“We want to find out what the problems are and how they can be solved.

“We also want to look at ‘what works’ as a regeneration strategy and how we can ensure the benefits that come from regeneration can be better shared so that local people don’t feel excluded from rising prosperity and growth.

“We welcome submissions of written evidence from anyone with knowledge of and an interest in seaside towns and coastal communities.”

Cllr Jeff Cant, leader of Weymouth and Portland Borough Council, stressed how important the funding was to bring the town’s regeneration plans forward.

He added: “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.”

Craig Oakes, vice president of Weymouth and Portland Chamber of Commerce, 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.”

South Dorset MP Richard Drax and Ian Girling, chief executive of the Dorset Chamber of Commerce have also backed the plans.