As part of the council’s recent planning permission to demolish the former Weymouth and Portland Borough Council offices at North Quay, Weymouth, preparations for an archaeological excavation will begin on 11 September.

The excavation will take place at the rear of the building, giving experts a chance to uncover more of Weymouth’s fascinating harbourside history. In line with planning conditions, the rear car park will close from Monday 11 September and will remain closed for the duration of the work.

Following site preparation, the excavation is due to start in earnest on 18 September and is expected to take up to 13 weeks to complete.

Dorset Council was granted planning permission to demolish the former council offices by the planning committee in July.  The first step in this process is to carry out an archaeological investigation on the site ahead of any further work.

North Quay is one of three key sites in Weymouth earmarked for a share of a £19.5m investment boost following the council’s successful bid to the government’s Levelling Up Fund last year. It is hoped the funding will kickstart economic growth in the town by investing in and regenerating Weymouth’s Waterfront Economy.

The council has appointed Dorset based archaeological experts Context One Heritage & Archaeology, to excavate North Quay car park, the same company which carried out preliminary archaeological investigations at North Quay in 2021 and at Weymouth Bowl in St Nicholas Street in 2022.

Cllr Andrew Parry, Dorset Council’s Portfolio Holder for Assets and Property, said:

“The explorations that Context One and the local volunteers uncovered at North Quay in 2021, and across the Harbour at the MFA Weymouth Bowl site in 2022, were beyond anything we thought might be unearthed.

“Having the chance to peer beneath the tarmac once again, to a Weymouth hundreds of years old is a very exciting prospect. There is such a rich and unique history right under our feet that never fails to amaze.”

To allow for the excavations to take place safely, the car park spaces to the rear of the North Quay building will close from Monday 11 September. A small number of car park spaces will continue to be in use, to the west and east of the building, until Monday 2 October. The entire car park at North Quay (the rear car park and the two smaller side car parks) will then be closed until all ground work and demolition is complete.

The car park is expected to reopen in Spring 2024, after the former council office building has been demolished with additional, temporary spaces on the footprint of the old council office building.

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