It’s finally happening – the huge former Weymouth and Portland Borough Council building is to be razed to the ground, opening up a prime piece of land on the harbourside.
Councillors on Dorset Council’s area planning committee have agreed to demolish the concrete building occupied by the local authority on North Quay for nearly half a century. Initially, the land will be used for car parking before being turned over to houses, changing the landscape forever.
The offices were occupied by hundreds of borough council staff from 1974 until 2019, when the new unitary Dorset Council superseded it.
Dorset Council was awarded £19.5m from the Government’s Levelling Up Funding (LUF) in January and aims to spend it on a dramatic transformation in three key areas of Weymouth.
The two other sites are the peninsula, (the piece of land currently used as car parking beyond the Pavilion) and the town centre.
Despite some grand plans for the area, and the fact the building is costing about £110,000 a year just sitting there, councillors had mixed reactions to the proposed demolition, with the vote split down the middle before the chairman used his casting vote.
A previous application to demolish and redevelop the site was withdrawn after the area planning committee voted against the proposed demolition and redevelopment scheme in September 2019.
Some work has already been done at the site and it is hoped to excavate it to build on the findings of an archaeological dig in 2021, which uncovered the remains of a medieval house, thought to have been built between the 12th and 15th centuries. The site is thought to have seen action during the Battle of Weymouth in the Civil War in 1645.
The council will now look for a development partner, while the North Quay site is demolished over 15 weeks.
The cost of demolition and creation of a temporary car park on the site is expected to be around £600,000.
Any future sale of the site will have terms attached so that the council retains some control over what may be built. This also means the council can ensure any redevelopment will follow Local and Neighbourhood Plan requirements.
- In addition to Dorset Council’s regeneration plans, the town council also hopes to revamp the seafront. A consultation survey is now open until Tuesday, August 15 here