FRUSTRATED residents claim their serious concerns about potential future housing sites are being ignored.

They are vehemently opposed to plans to build a total of 480 homes on greenfield sites in Preston, Weymouth.

Their anger comes as Weymouth Town Council draws up its Neighbourhood Plan which sets policies for the town's future development up to 2038.

As part of the plan, land is allocated for new homes - with two sites put forward in Preston on land off Budmouth Avenue and what is described as Wyke Oliver Farm North.

A draft plan has been prepared by residents and councillors who make up the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group and follows several earlier rounds of public engagement events with local people and technical assessments to support the proposals.

People in Preston claim their concerns about housing sites, previously protected as greenfield sites, have not been heard. They say it isn't fair more homes are planned to built in that area than anywhere else.

However, the town council says the plan must look at sites that are available to address the need for local affordable housing, - and these are two of ten sites across Weymouth.

Dorset Echo: Land off Budmouth Avenue/Brackendown Avenue (L) and Land off Oliver Wyke Farm North (R)At a residents' meeting, Dorset Councillor Louie O'Leary voiced his opposition to the plans - claiming the people of Preston have been 'sold down the river'.

He said: "The last consultation has closed, and I am still deciphering it.

"There will be a referendum (to vote for the plan) at the end of this year, or the beginning of the new year for all of Weymouth.

"The crucial thing is not how many people (vote in the referendum), but who (votes).

"I believe (Preston residents) would be the most motivated people, as well as people in the town centre who have also expressed concerns about parking.

"People in Preston would turn out as we have been sold down the river."

He added: "There are some good things in the plan, it is not all bad, but as it is, it is not something I can support.

"We will not give up on this matter  it is vitally important to this area."

One of the main concerns was highlighted by resident and campaigner Glenn van der Pas, who spoke at length during the meeting about the Neighbourhood Plan and how he believes that voices opposing the developments have been silenced.

He alleges greenfield sites in Preston have been changed as sites for development by the steering group which is responsible for the plan.

In a previous consultation, nine people from Preston and 35 people from other parts of Weymouth took part with 58 per cent in favour of future developments on greenfield sites.

However, 573 opinions - including many against housebuilding - from another consultation, which ended in January 2023 have been ignored, according to Mr Van der Pas.

At the public meeting he called on residents to write into the town council and complain to make their voices heard.

He said: "It gets my goat up when I am being taken for a fool.
"If you feel as mad as me and want to write, if you think democracy has been taken away, then do so.

"We just want to overturn the green space development.

"So, say in your own words why you are not happy, unless all of us say we are not happy, and we don't protest, this will happen."

Weymouth Town Council said the developments are just proposals at this stage, and another round of consultation is planned.

A Weymouth Town Council spokesperson said: "We have carried out several rounds of consultation on Weymouth's Neighbourhood Plan, encouraging residents to give their views and help shape the proposals at every stage.

"A subsequent consultation was run where all residents in Weymouth could give their views on the draft plan.

"There will be yet another consultation to come which Dorset Council will carry out before the document is put to a referendum where all registered voters in Weymouth can have their say.

"It's important to stress that any proposed housing development is still subject to planning permission being approved by Dorset Council, where interested residents can again make their views heard.

"For full background details on the Neighbourhood Plan, visit our website.