PLANS for a regional fire and rescue training centre for Dorset, based at Weymouth, have been submitted for approval.

The multi-million pound development, which will look like a film set, is planned for the rear of the existing community station in Radipole Lane.

It will replace the existing, out-dated, county-wide training centre at a former army base in West Moors.

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue have declined to say how much the bill for new centre will be, if approved, other than to say it will be “cost-effective.”

However, a search of the authority’s financial statements in the last year shows £8million set aside in the capital budget for the Weymouth centre and a re-design of the existing Devizes, Wiltshire facility.

The new Weymouth centre will feature a wide range of settings for staff training, including crashed vehicles, work accident settings and rescue and fire fighting in a range of buildings as well as breathing apparatus training.

Public comments are now being invited on the proposals, prior to Dorset Council making a final decision next year.

The fire and rescue service say they have held several consultation events with near-neighbours and have extensive proposals to deal with any likely smoke, noise and fumes.

Weymouth councillor Pete Barrow, who sits on the fire and rescue authority, had previously welcomed the development: “We all need a Fire and Rescue Service that can respond effectively and safely if we need help and this requires the staff to be trained to the highest possible standards. I’m convinced the new training centre will enable the service to do just that.

“The DWFRA has held a number of consultation events to let local residents know about the plans and to ensure any concerns are understood and acted on. The service has also set up a number of ways local residents can keep in touch as the project proceeds to deal with any other concerns that arise,” he said.

The new centre is expected to bring extra staff to the site in addition to those being trained. The fire and rescue service says this could amount to ten instructors with seven technical and support staff, with up to  20 students at a time, although for the majority of courses will only have 12.

The land to be used for the new centre was previously a Safewise and Streetwise safety training area and has been used by thousands of children and young people over the years, featuring street scenes and demonstration areas.

A Dorset Council’s planning officer has indicated that the proposals are likely to be acceptable, subject to agreement over some of the details. Said a report submitted with the application: “The principle of the proposed development would be acceptable, subject to the consideration of site specific impacts arising from the proposals. Based on my understanding of the nature of the proposed use and the range of activities that it would comprise, I consider that particular attention would need to be paid to matters of noise, air quality, highways and parking, and the design and visual impact of the building.”

The full planning application, which runs to dozens of pages, many of them technical in nature, can be viewed on the Dorset Council website by searching for reference 2023/03281. Public comments are invited until the end of December.