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Stadium store plan hits snag

by: theterras

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PROPOSALS for a new football stadium and supermarket at Weymouth Football Club’s Wessex Stadium suffered a blow in a planning report today.

The proposals – for a scheme involving Asda moving from the town centre to the present football ground site and a new stadium being built next door – were challenged in a report from Weymouth and Portland’s Local Plan inquiry.

Planning inspector William Cunningham called for the scheme to be looked at again in a wider examination of shopping provision in the area.

Mr Cunningham headed an inquiry into Weymouth and Portland Borough Council’s proposed new local plan last year.

Mr Cunningham branded the council’s retail strategy as not ‘soundly based’ because the Wessex Stadium site was within West Dorset District Council’s area and that planning permission from West Dorset was not guaranteed.

He did not rule out the scheme but recommended that the two councils join forces to draw up an overall retail strategy to meet the needs of shoppers in the area.

Coun Doug Hollings, borough council briefholder for the environment, said: “We felt it was a sensible suggestion and that’s why it was in our local plan.

“West Dorset was not convinced of that. Now we need to get together with other local authorities in the area.

He added: “We accept that what the inspector said was probably sensible and that it needs to be looked at in a wider context.”

The scheme was set to breathe new life into Weymouth Football Club and give Asda a new site.

The Local Plan identifies land use proposals up to 2011 and includes policies which all planning applications have to meet with.

The inquiry into it was held last year.

Mr Cunningham confirmed that the Orange Route for a relief road should be included in the local plan.

He said: “The evidence before me demonstrates that the Orange Route has materially less detrimental environmental impact than the Brown Route.”

Mr Cunningham also supported council housing proposals and its intention to maintain ‘important open gaps’ of undeveloped land at Preston Downs and Markham and Little Francis.

The report also recommended the deletion of 40 per cent of the housing allocation on land south of Lorton Lane for a wildlife corridor.

Coun HoIlings added: “We are delighted the inspector has supported the retention of our important green spaces and generally supports the council’s view of how the borough should be developed.

“There is a lot of work to do now in considering all the inspector’s recommendations in detail.

The plan will now be considered by the council and proposed modifications will be published in the summer for public consultation before it is adopted at the end of the year.

Weymouth FC chairman Martyn Harrison was unavailable for comment this morning.

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