CHANGES at Custom House Quay on Weymouth Harbour were approved by Dorset Council's Planning committee yesterday - including the permanent loss of 39 free one-hour parking spaces.

It comes after the plan for a cycle lane along Custom House Quay on Weymouth Harbour was scrapped after public opposition.

But cycle campaigners say only a handful of people were against the idea in a public consultation – out of a population of more than 55,000 people - and that it is not consistent with council policy to support cycling.

Councillors on the area planning committee yesterday (Thursday) unanimously voted for dropping the contraflow cycle proposals but supported a traffic order which is likely to result in the permanent removal of one-hour public parking spaces and resident parking slots – putting nine loading bays in their place for boat users and harbourside businesses.

There are 39 harbourside parking spaces which will be lost in total if the traffic order is approved by Cabinet. A Dorset Council survey showed a split opinion about the cycle lane plans, with 40 per cent in support, 50.3 per cent against and 9.7 per cent unsure of the proposal – although there were only 113 overall responses from 89 households.

The Dorset Echo held its own survey – which showed similar results – 35 per cent in support, 63 per cent against, and 2 per cent undecided.

Portfolio holder for highways and the environment Cllr Ray Bryan says the changes will create a safer space and improve air quality with the public realm improvements expected to cost around £500,000, mainly paid for from external funding through the Department for Transport.

A temporary sitting out scheme has been in place at Custom House Quay since the spring – which the council said has been largely supported by locals, visitors and businesses.

The cycle scheme was due to be considered by the council's planning committee yesterday but was dropped at short notice after portfolio holder cllr Ray Bryan pulled the plug on the scheme - having deferred it from an earlier planning meeting to give extra consideration to public feedback.

Said Councillor Bryan: “In September I decided to take extra time to consider the comments made through our informal survey and the formal consultation about the proposals for Custom House Quay, particularly in relation to the contraflow cycle lane. “Overall, I support this scheme as I think it will improve the area as intended, but I have asked for the contraflow cycle lane to be removed, as I know people are generally not in favour of it and I understand their reasons.”

He told planning committee members that he could understand the risks of turning what had been a one-way system into two-way with people, as he put it, “in a relaxed state” coming out of pubs and restaurants and not thinking to look both ways.

The committee heard that removing the short-term parking slots would put an end to people driving around unnecessarily, looking for one of the harbourside spaces. Council figures suggest 6,000 pedestrians use the area each day in the summer and 2,500 vehicles.

Weymouth councillor Kate Wheller told Thursday’s committee she welcomed the changes, which she said had been “a long time coming,” having been originally proposed in 2014. She said she was pleased the recommendations of harbour businesses, including fishermen and boat operators, and the local access group had been taken into account.

Owermoigne councillor Nick Ireland also backed the proposals: “People will soon get used to the idea that one-hour parking isn’t there anymore.”

Said Portland’s Paul Kimber “I hope this idea is now going further around the harbour. There’s so much more we could do.”