A ROW has broken out over plans to bring a derelict structure on Weymouth's Castle Cove Beach back into use.

The decaying former Castle Cove Sailing Club dinghy store has been bought by a new owner who plans to turn it into a sitting area for the public to enjoy, enabling more people to visit the beach by opening up an inaccessible area.

However the Friends of Castle Cove Beach community group is concerned about large crowds and increased litter if the plans go ahead. The beach is currently a haven for local families away from busier beaches frequented by holidaymakers.

The new owner is London woman Henrietta Nasmyth, who along with business partner Stephen Harper has formed the company 'Wyvern Bovver' with a view to renovate and lower the rotten wooden deck at an estimated cost of around £110,000.

During a heated community meeting on the beach, a Dorset Council planning enforcement officer said that changing the use of the structure would need planning permission, and said all work, other than work to make the deck safe, must come to a stop for the time being.

Currently, no formal planning proposal has been submitted to the council, although Ms Nasmyth said she has informed authorities about the plans.

She said: "We want to make this a useable public space so more people can enjoy the beach - the amount of space on Castle Cove beach will be doubled as a result.

"The community group thinks it owns the beach - a beach cannot be owned. I think they are concerned about increased litter but we have said we will cover the cost (of providing a solution).

"We anticipate the deck would still be used to store inflatables and boats and would like it to have a cold-water shower. However we are limited with what we can do without the council's support."

Steve Elsworth, of the Friends of Castle Cove Beach, said: "As a proposal this looks great on paper but would be thoroughly detrimental to the beach.

"We respect two individuals coming here from Camden and offering to donate the structure back into public use but I am not confident. I don't think it is being done in the right way."

Cllr Kate Wheller, who was also at the meeting, expressed concerns that the new owners had not gone down the proper channels, and requested more information about the proposals, while nearby residents raised concerns about trees being removed and wood stored on their land due to the project.