COUNCIL chiefs are to come under intense pressure tonight to rethink their approach to the Weymouth Pavilion Peninsula redevelopment.

Serious concerns about the landmark regeneration scheme have been raised by a number of groups and individuals – ahead of Weymouth and Portland Borough Council agreeing a £11.4 million funding deal to get the first phase of development underway.

Councillors will be asked to approve the finance deal – involving borrowing a huge sum from the Public Works Loan Board – at the full council meeting tonight. A number of objectors are due to speak at the meeting.

It is said the scheme will generate enough income to both repay the borrowing and generate a surplus.

A planning application is expected to be considered before the end of the year.

The initial phase – the ‘accommodation offer’ at the front end – will include a hotel, pub/diner with accommodation, café, public spaces and harbour improvements.

Further phases will include leisure facilities – soft play centre trampolining and indoor rock climbing have been suggested as examples.

Some councillors have expressed concerns about the scheme, saying the public has not been listened to, and that the council should rethink.

Now a man who worked on the peninsula extension in the 1950s claims the foundation of the site is not currently suitable for what the council has planned for the site.

See that story here

And a community group is challenging the council on its plans after hiring a law expert to study the proposals.

See that story here

Meanwhile, local property developer Mickey Jones, also a trained accountant, is urging councillors to rethink the project before borrowing money and delivering one phase.

Granby and Link Park developer Mr Jones said he is behind regenerating the peninsula site and is making a comment purely 'as a local person who cares and understands development'.

His concerns include:

* Claims that the council does not have the skills internally to make an accurate assessment of the risks involved, nor the property skills to embark on this project

* Claims of 'inherent' risks in the project. He asks why the council needs to retain the site, and suggests a developer should be progressing the scheme. Private developers can run projects far more efficiently that a public body, and even with profit factored in, can deliver more at a lower cost, Mr Jones suggests

* Claims phase one is being entered into in 'isolation' and there is no appreciation of the latter phases: "With a project of this nature, you must work from a masterplan and have robust financial information for the whole project," Mr Jones suggests.

* He further claims the leisure market has changed since previous council research, and is now 'significantly weaker'. Mr Jones believes residential development should have considered for the scheme.

Mr Jones made a plea to councillors, saying: "Can I urge you all to take a step back, take another look at this project and not make a rushed decision, based on part of the project in isolation. You need to make the right decision and not a quick decision. Agreeing a revised masterplan is the starting point, not borrowing a pile of money and delivering one phase."

Cllr Jeff Cant, Weymouth & Portland Borough Council Briefholder for Finance & Assets said: “The submitted proposals are based on the three principles we have adopted for prime sites; boosting the local economy and jobs, maintaining community control and access, and delivering an annual income stream.

"Any residential property would attract high prices and exclude most of the local community, delivering very little as a legacy to the generations to follow."

He added: The scheme submitted for outline planning is consistent with the town centre Masterplan’s overarching aim, and shared vision, of transforming the town into a year-round destination.”