Weymouth Harbour users claim they are being let down and not listened to over the Quayside regeneration scheme.

Several turned up at County Hall to question councillors about what is happening with the project.

Some claimed the consultation had been non-existent, others said they had not been asked their views while others said even when they did get to express their views they were not being heard.

Harbours committee chairman Cllr Kate Wheller said the consultation was continuing, none of the suggestions made so far were set in stone and there would be more talks after Christmas. She stressed that nothing had been decided and the council was listening.

Some commercial users said they feared their livelihoods would be affected if they were forced to move from their current positions.

Jamie Pullen asked which elements of the Fisher Report would be included in the harbour strategy and what the suggestions were for charter boat operators. Diver Phil Cox said there would be a major impact if operators had to move location and asked for the impact assessment research.

Richard Bridepool said all the residents, businesses and others he spoke to believe the proposals would do ‘significant harm’ to incomes if they did go ahead. He described the consultation process as ‘not fit for purpose’ and claimed there was serious flaws in the 2017 consultant report into the future of the harbour. He said the Weymouth Skippers Association believed that 150 jobs in the harbour could be at risk if commercial operators and dive boats were forced to move.

Cllr Wheller said a harbours strategy would be developed over the next six-eight months – offering opportunities to invest in all local harbours for their future prosperity.

She said that at this stage any ideas were ‘conceptual’ and that the committee was aware of the concerns and would consider them before agreeing firm proposals.

“The Weymouth Quay Regeneration Project is an opportunity for investment in to the harbour and to review some of the operations to set us up for the future. The current engagement is not about the wider peninsula development which is currently on hold.

“The plans presented at the engagement meetings were conceptual.  The committee is in the process of considering feedback from the engagement events, so at this stage we are unable to specify what modifications may be made. However, we are aware of the concerns some businesses have around the harbour and will consider these carefully in the context of the wider harbour operations and the considerable benefits these businesses generate to the local economy,” said Cllr Wheller.

She said some of the suggestions for the regeneration scheme had come from the Fisher report and the consultant’s experience of other harbours in the UK.  She reiterated that no decision would be considered until the New Year and, even then, taking into account feedback on the initial suggestions.

Committee member Jim Clarke won applause from the public when he said it was apparent there was something amiss with the consultation and the council ought to acknowledge that. He suggested it might want to look again at the constitution and make-up of the harbour users consultative group.

The development

As part of the proposals for the £6.8 million Weymouth Quay Regeneration Project, redundant buildings at the former ferry terminal will be demolished to make way for the new development.

This development would see a brand new building constructed, which would include a new Harbour Centre of Excellence for small to medium size enterprises, and buildings such as a harbour office and other facilities for users.

Proposals also include moving the fish landing quay and improving it as well as other essential facilities including fuel. A new harbourside walkway is also part of the plan.

Weymouth Pavilion will remain unaffected by the development.

These plans are separate to the redevelopment of the peninsula with a leisure scheme.

Residents attended a drop-in at the library last month to find out more and ask questions. Some expressed concerns about the proposals and how the project would shape the area's future.

Earlier this autumn, Austin-Smith:Lord was appointed as the architectural firm responsible for drawing up the details of the project.

A planning application is expected to be submitted in spring 2020.