PROPOSALS to build accommodation pods for homeless people at Weymouth's Park and Ride site have moved a step forward amid enthusiastic support from local councillors.

Members of Weymouth Town Council's Planning Committee voted unanimously in favour of giving the Bus Shelter charity a five-year lease for the site, after the organisation submitted an application to expand its service.

Currently the charity provides a homeless shelter in a double decker bus at Lodmoor - but is hoping to build mobile accommodation units at the Mount Pleasant car park site on Mercery Road.

During an online meeting on Tuesday, Weymouth councillors voted to express support for the Bus Shelter to be granted a five year lease for the project. However the final decision still hangs in the balance as it ultimately rests with Dorset Council's planning committee.

It would see the creation of three purpose-built mobile accommodation units, each split into four individual self-contained rooms, for people to live inside within the overflow car park - 12 flats in total.

Councillor Jon Orrell was among those strongly in favour of the plans. He said: "Many objections we would have had a few years ago relating to problem behaviour or similar concerns have largely been answered. I think we can have confidence in the Bus Shelter's track record for managing issues and providing a much needed service.

"No-one wants this on their doorstep but equally we don't want to see people on the streets either. I would love to see the need for projects such as this become redundant - but in the absence of social housing this looks like a good solution. I'm in favour of it."

Councillor Trefor Morgan said: "I'm in favour of supporting a five-year permission for the site."

Councillor David Northam said: "I worry about the distance from town as it could make it less attractive for service users - but am in favour of a five-year lease."

Councillor Lucy Hamilton agreed. She said: "I also have concerns about the people being stuck out in a windswept car park. We all welcome the innovation and want to quickly get people off the streets but I wonder whether consideration has been given to other locations.

"However I have spoken to the Bus Shelter and welcome their efforts in providing a properly regulated service, supporting 50 people and with no reported incidents. They also gave assurances that anyone without a local connection is supported to find accommodation elsewhere, in the area where they have most ties."

Commenting on the out-of-town site, councillor Ann Weaving said: "I think it's a good location - I'm sure residents would rather it there than The Esplanade. Also, there are nearby shops, a good bus service - and I'm sure the people would feel happier that they're not being looked at all the time. I think the Bus Shelter is marvellous - unless we're going to suddenly build more social housing, we need this."

Agreeing, councillor Jan Bergman said: "I've been to visit the Bus Shelter a few times recently. This is a much-needed development and the location is near a short-cut to town as well as shops. The homeless people being looked after there are from Weymouth, not outsiders. I'm supporting it."

Councillor David Harris said: "The current Bus Shelter will be moved to the new site as an office. I can't see any reason for objection and would like to see the project granted a lease for five years. I'm totally in favour and wish the Bus Shelter the very best of luck."

A motion to support a five-year lease for the "ambitious and innovative essential service" to get off the ground at the new location was unanimously backed by the committee.

The final decision will be made by Dorset Council's Planning Committee.