INITIAL reactions to newly-revealed plans to change the layout of Custom House Quay on Weymouth harbourside have been largely positive.

As reported, Dorset Council has launched a consultation over proposals to revise traffic arrangements along the north side of the harbour, to include a cycle lane, wider pavements and larger sitting-out areas outside pubs and restaurants.

However, the scheme would likely see the loss of 39 one-hour free parking spaces.

Dorset Echo: Proposals for the new scheme Picture: Dorset CouncilProposals for the new scheme Picture: Dorset Council

Christopher Peck, cycling and walking officer from Dorset Council's Highways team, hopes the plans will 'broadly satisfy' all users of the harbour - whilst accepting that some compromises must be made.

"We've tried to develop a scheme that's going to work for as many people as possible," he said.

"With the old rail lines being removed, we can now look at the whole layout of the road and consider whether such a large amount of free parking is the best use of such a prime spot.

"We know from previous studies that a lot of drivers make 'search trips' to the harbour for free parking - however (the hour limit) gets a bit abused, as it's very hard to enforce. Some people might use the spaces for several hours which is quite a lot of lost revenue.

"We also want to reserve some spaces for boats - at the moment some vessels can't get access to offload from the quayside due to cars parked all the way along.

"We're hoping that in the round it will be an improvement for most people."

Local councillors and residents have been sharing their views since the news was announced yesterday.

Dorset Echo: Graphic of current layout Picture: Dorset CouncilGraphic of current layout Picture: Dorset Council

Councillor Jon Orrell, who represents Melcombe Regis ward, said: "The council is seeking public views - this proposal would bring an investment of £1.5 million from central Government to Weymouth. The scheme maintains the active harbour and access for fishing boats whilst also offering attractive walk and cycle routes with better sitting out areas for restaurants.

"As more people take 'staycations' in the UK I hope this wins local backing to make our harbour even better for the future."

Dorset Echo: Map view of the proposed new layout Picture: Dorset CouncilMap view of the proposed new layout Picture: Dorset Council

This latest proposal follows the controversial temporary pedestrianisation scheme imposed at the harbour last summer.

It was particularly unpopular among members of the charter and fishing fleet community, who suffered the loss of harbourside access to boats, among other issues, and feared the pedestrianisation would be made permanent.

While the proposed scheme is not a pedestrianisation of the area, and traffic will still be allowed to pass through, it is likely to cause consternation among local skippers, who have previously voiced concerns about hospitality businesses being prioritised.

Dorset Echo: Roads were closed last year as the harbour was pedestrianised temporarilyRoads were closed last year as the harbour was pedestrianised temporarily

Councillor Louie O'Leary, who sits on the Weymouth Harbour Board, was among those strongly opposed to the summer pedestrianisation scheme.

Commenting on the new plans, cllr O'Leary said: "While I'm not against this completely we must remember it is a working harbour - there has to be full consultation and engagement with harbour businesses, including fishing and diving, as well inner town businesses who may suffer from a loss of parking.

"I'm also not sure that a cycle lane going in this direction is the safest thing - and the problem of drink-related anti-social behaviour along the quay must be sorted out.

"This scheme must not become a step towards full pedestrianisation of the harbour."

Dorset Echo: Harbour residents turned out to protest against pedestrianisation plans during summerHarbour residents turned out to protest against pedestrianisation plans during summer

In relation to anti-social behaviour concerns, the council said it is in discussions with police and emergency services as part of the current consultation.

Highways' Christopher Peck said: "We want to re-format the way the public use the space and make it more accessible for families.

"At the moment it is quite hazardous in the area along the harbour wall, particularly with apparatus from boats - we're going to massively increase that space which will make it a much safer and nicer place to spend time."

Meanwhile Echo readers have been sharing their initial thoughts on the plans.

Ed Taylor said: "Looks good to me, but I imagine there will be questions about whether parking will be provided elsewhere. Personally, I'd like to see the area pedestrianised other than for residents/ deliveries. In all the time I've lived here and the hundreds of times I've driven into town, I've never once needed to drive along that road, but that's just my opinion."

Phil Jones said: "Crazy planners are so myopic to remove parking. Perhaps a better solution would be delineated parking bays, with sensor loops inbuilt, to detect when they are occupied. Then, visitors seeking a parking spot could be advised if/when one is vacant. This may stop the procession of cars circulating for parking. Get rid of parking and you get rid of visitors, too, and the town WILL die. How about turning the old council offices into a multi storey car park?"

Sebastian Green said: "Taking out the parking is such a good idea whilst maintaining road access and loading bays.

"During the summer we see so many cars just driving around in circles burning fuel, hunting for a space for an hour's free parking.

"In my opinion we need to better encourage use of the park and ride and the extra parking space at Lodmoor next to the tip."

Nigel Sims-Duff said: "Personally, I don’t like these proposals. The contra-flow cycle lane takes up valuable space and would be a rarely-used luxury - cyclists have never used this route to get to the Pavilion.

"The footpath by the pubs is too wide, making the footpath by the wall too narrow, especially with seating both sides; it will make it difficult for pushchairs to pass, scooters etc. The benches facing the harbour are too boring and there is no greenery anywhere.

"This is an opportunity to reduce the impact of a traffic route and create an attractive mini linear public space by the harbour wall with planter/seating, maritime sculptures, lighting and planting. In my humble opinion."

Darryl Smith said: "Maybe we should look at filling the empty shops, sorting out the potholes, and doing something about the municipal building that’s supposedly costing £10k a month sitting empty.

"There are plenty of projects that need doing. £448,000 could be better spent on other ideas instead of helping out 5-6 business that already do very well from what I see, having lived here for best part of forty years.

"Don’t get me wrong I love the harbour, and do enjoy eating out there occasionally. But the town centre needs help more than the harbour does."

Steve Elsworth said: "In terms of tourism, Weymouth has relied for too long on the bucket-and-spade mentality. There is a lack of ambition, of trying new ideas. We are becoming tired and dull. Something bigger and more exciting than usual is called for.

"I like this scheme, because it is braver than just tinkering with Weymouth-as-it-is. We need to do something to make the town more attractive: this is a good start. I'd be in favour of more pedestrianisation, myself. Pedestrianisation doesn't preclude boats unloading at the harbour: I've seen them coexist in other places.

"Reading the comments, there seems to be justifiable concern about the location and direction of the dedicated cycle lane. I'm in favour of cycling, but this part of the scheme seems ill-considered. It seems more logical to keep the cycles with the rest of the traffic in both directions of the new one-way system, and to scrap the dedicated lane.

"So, yes. Good idea. More of these, please."

Dorset Council is encouraging residents to share their views in an online survey. To take part visit