The £1.2 million project to transform the Weymouth railway station forecourt has scooped two awards at a prestigious contest.

But while there are celebrations at Dorset Council with the civil engineering awards' success, business people based near the station believe the whole project was a 'farce' and a complete waste of money.

They claim the much-lauded project has made little difference and lacks any proper facilities.

It was previously slammed as a 'missed opportunity' for public transport as it emerged that only two bus services will call at the revamped station.

The Weymouth Station Gateway project, led by Dorset Coast Forum in partnership with Dorset Council and partners and using funding from South Western Railway and others, won two trophies at the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) South West Civil Engineering Awards 2023.

As well as being presented with the Community Award, it was given the Judges’ Special Award.

Dorset Echo: The project was designed to open up the layout of the station forecourt, promoting sustainable transport options and reducing anti-social behaviour. It also involved the creation of what was described as a 'Pocket Park' next to the Esso garage although this part of the scheme was scaled back compared to the original design.

Previously, local councillor Christine James said those responsible for the Pocket Park “need their backsides kicking all around the room".

The judging panel for the ICE awards was impressed with the "collaborative, respectful partnership behind the scheme, bringing together the local community, the rail company and the transport authority to improve the public realm".

The judges described the project as an "outstanding example of infrastructure that unites communities and improves people’s daily lives". 

Dorset Echo: Opening of the so-called 'Pocket Park' 

Dorset Council said the project had transformed the forecourt into a more welcoming and accessible place, and that anti-social behaviour had reduced as a result.

However, local businesses said despite not looking ‘unpleasing’ they claim it is far from fit for purpose.

READ MORE: Grand opening of Weymouth Railway Station forecourt

Ian Ferguson, who owns Weyline Taxis, has been left unimpressed with the forecourt.

He said:  “For a start, a major flaw in the design is there are no no entry signs, so people go in from Queen Street.

“The poles were an afterthought and they have caused buses so much trouble. A wavy taxi rank? Cars can’t just pull in; they have to pull in and reverse."

He added: “I love Weymouth, but I cannot put my hand on my heart and say that the station is a good thing.

“Nobody has actually given a thought to the vehicles – aesthetically it is not unpleasing. Practically though, it is not fit for purpose.”

“I think it could have been a lot of a better job. To be honest it's form before function.”

The area was also meant to help curb anti-social behaviour, but Mr Ferguson does not believe that this is something that has been solved.

He said: “One of the issues that has not been addressed is a way of stopping it becoming an area where people congregate.

“I am not saying people shouldn’t be there. It’s become a haven for street drinkers, it’s not actually homeless people.

“It’s not becoming this safe haven.”

Paul Farwell of the Railway Tavern said he doesn't think the anti-social behaviour has been as bad this year due to increased police patrols, but still thinks the project has been a big waste of money.

Mr Farwell previously expressed his concerns about rail passengers using his pub toilets, with some being abusive, as the facilities at the station remain closed.

READ MORE: Railway Tavern inundated with abusive train passengers

He said: “They haven’t even got a bench for passengers to wait for the trains in the sunshine, there are no bins, so people throw their rubbish everywhere; a volunteer group comes to pick it all up.

“It’s unbelievable how they have wasted all the money.”

Mr Farwell also claimed there was issues with kerbs not being properly cemented and complained about the quality of the surface of the forecourt.

He said: "It's an absolute farce.

"They took away a roundabout and put in a very unlevel surface – it’s terrible.

“The first time it rained we had a big pool of water over there.

“In the end we had a water feature here, they had to cut out a channel through in the end.”

Meanwhile, celebrating the award success Councillor Ray Bryan, Dorset Council’s Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled that the team has won these fantastic awards from the Institution of Civil Engineers.

"Dorset Council invested significantly in this partnership scheme which has transformed the forecourt into a more welcoming and accessible place for visitors and has already shown a reduction in anti-social behaviour.

"A big driver of this scheme was to improve connections for sustainable travel, encouraging people to use rail travel instead of their cars which helps reduce congestion and improve air-quality in the town.

“I’d like to pass on my thanks and congratulations to Dorset Council’s officers and our partner organisations for their part in making this scheme so successful, it’s an exemplar of excellent partnership working, and I’m delighted this has been recognised by the Institution.”