Weymouth could be the home to a new Jurassic Coast museum and visitor centre if all goes to plan.

The proposal for a new museum and centre in Weymouth seeks to increase the access and long-term security for fossils from the Jurassic Coast which are currently held in private collections.

Although plans have been underway for just under a year to bring a new museum to Weymouth, they are now reaching the final stages of approval following the news that consultancy firm IPW has completed the initial feasibility study.

The Jurassic Coast is a 95-mile long stretch of coastline covering Dorset and part of East Devon. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site recognised for its outstanding rocks, fossils and landforms.

IPW was commissioned to undertake research and engagement with key stakeholders and consider sustainable options for a site to develop.

This work is part of the wider Jurassic Coast Collection programme and was in part funded by the John Ellerman Foundation.

After exploring the development opportunity of the seaside town, the Jurassic Coast Trust (JCT) who are behind the new plans have revealed that construction works could get underway within a two-year period and at an estimated cost of £5 million.

Since November 2023, Chief Executive of the JCT, Lucy Culkin, has attended several strategic meetings to express an interest in the  Weymouth site.

Ms Culkin has met with a group of Weymouth stakeholders, Dorset Council councillors and strategic leads for arts and culture strategy as well as local business leaders, and so far has found that ‘the potential for a new museum and centre has received general support, but with acknowledgement that it is a rapid and unexpected development in our project.’

A spokesperson for the JCT said: “The next steps are to secure funding to complete the strategic business case for the Weymouth location, which will confirm if it is financially viable.

“We will also be continuing stakeholder consultation, specifically using this opportunity to develop our understanding of how new public collection of fossils can be created and how it will sit alongside the existing museum collection along the JCWHS.

“If the site in Weymouth proves to be viable, then we will be seeking funding for a project team to complete master planning and implementing a fundraising strategy to secure the financing required to bring this project to life.

Alongside the strategic business case work relating to the Weymouth site, we will also be “seeking opportunities to develop a Collections Centre in parallel. This will also be part of the forthcoming stakeholder engagement for this project.”