All-weather leisure attractions were among the most popular items within the proposals when more than 700 people had their say about ambitious plans for the Weymouth Peninsula.
Residents, businesses and hoteliers gave their views in an online survey and at three public engagement events when Weymouth & Portland Borough Council consulted them about initial ideas to breathe fresh life into the landmark site.
Proposals for the site – home to Weymouth Pavilion and the Jurassic Skyline – include restaurants, walkways, new harbour facilities and improvements, harbour wall repairs and a mid-range hotel as well as undercover leisure units.
Findings showed that some 52 per cent of people felt that the draft scheme overall was ‘very good’ or ‘good’ and 27% felt it was fair.
The most popular elements of the proposals were:
• All-weather activities
• Walkways around the whole Peninsula
• Harbour facilities and improvements
• Landscaping and walkways
• Public and commercial fishing facilities
Over 700 people answered the survey about the proposals for the site, while around 200 residents, hoteliers and businesses gave their views on interactive boards and with voting tokens at the public engagement events.
Now the council is considering the responses before submitting an outline planning application to establish principles of development on the site, including size and scale.
Cllr Jeff Cant, Leader of Weymouth & Portland Borough Council and Briefholder for Finance & Assets, said:
“At last after three years of hard work the first of our three major regeneration projects is ready to go. The overall findings from our consultation with the community are very positive about the development of this iconic site. Our thanks go to everyone who took part for their constructive comments, which will be considered as part of our outline planning application and the more detailed design work to come.
“We are publishing a snapshot of these results straight away but a further opportunity will be available shortly when we submit our outline planning application.”
The Peninsula project is part of plans to transform Weymouth and Portland into a vibrant, year-round destination for visitors and provide more leisure facilities for residents, while complementing other facilities and businesses in the town.
The survey results showed responses from a broad age range with a strong response from younger age groups in favour of the scheme.
Overall reasons for support included improvement of the whole area and the provision of year-round facilities for locals and visitors.
The most popular design principles were public access to all harbour frontages, low-rise development to fit in with the seafront and the focus on maritime uses on the harbour side.
Less popular items within the proposals were the larger mid-range hotel and boutique hotel and restaurant.
Onsite parking received a divided response with some residents keen to see the parking be expanded upon, whilst others felt the site should be pedestrianised, or for parking to be removed completely.
The council is currently awaiting a detailed transport report which will help set out the best way forward, whilst keeping with sustainable strategies set out by Dorset County Council as the local transport authority.
There were 26 survey responses from organisations, businesses and hoteliers based in the town with over half of these expressing concern about the development of additional hotels on the site.
Cllr Jeff Cant said: “Understandably, some hoteliers and B&B owners have concerns about the proposed hotels, but our aim is to complement existing businesses rather than compete with them and we are convinced that the additional year round footfall will provide a real boost to our hardworking hoteliers in season, and most importantly during the autumn and winter months.
“Increased footfall driven by the Peninsula and a greater reputation as an excellent year-round holiday resort will seek to benefit all of our local businesses”
Of 213 people at the public engagement event, the majority were positive about developing the site, with all-weather facilities among their favourite ideas.