Refurbishment and extension of existing Beach Office to provide extra WCs, extended kiosk and first floor office with lift access
The Development Manager presented the application that sought approval for the refurbishment and extension of the existing Beach Office to provide additional WCs, an extended kiosk and first floor office with lifts. The location was set within the seafront environment and the Town Centre Conservation Area.
The ground floor plan retained the changing places facility and added an extra 22 unisex toilets, including accessible toilets, a parent room and a family room. Provision had been made for the accessible toilets to be left or right “handed” with appropriate signage to indicate this.
The extension encompassed the former outside seating area to provide rentable kiosk space and the proposed first floor projection would be larger than the existing and built on stilts over the Esplanade towards the beach so as not to obstruct pedestrian movement. This would provide additional facilities for beach staff that included a viewing balcony as well as mitigate the loss of meeting space on the ground floor that would be used for the additional toilets.
The key planning matters were highlighted including the principle of development, scale, design, impact on character and appearance of the larger projection, impact on amenity, impact on landscape and heritage assets, economic benefits, access and parking, flooding and environmental performance.
The Development Manager advised that a lot of representations had been received regarding the level of provision of solar panels. Upon further investigation it was found that the roof of the building would need to be reinforced to take the additional weight and that not all of the roof surfaces were suitable.
In response to a question the Development Manager advised that, if more panels were installed on the south elevation the visual impact of this on listed buildings and the conservation area would need to be considered further as this roof was more prominent than the existing roof. The proposed number of panels was therefore considered satisfactory as they would support the operation of the building, although not sufficient to provide feedback of electricity to the national grid.
Members considered the matters arising from the application and made the following comments during the discussion:-
Members highlighted that the plan had altered from previous iterations over the past 2 years and that internal shower facilities and doors opening onto the pavement had not featured in plans as recently as 3-4 months ago. It was noted that the existing underground toilets would remain in use during the summer and be closed during the winter period.
Mr Madgwick, the Transport Development Liaison Engineer, stated that toilet doors that opened onto pedestrian areas could cause safety issues for pedestrians and could be mitigated with appropriate warnings or barriers.
The Development Manager advised that unisex toilets with doors on the outside of the building was a common approach to the provision of public toilets. Dorset Council Highways had made no objection to the proposal, however, the use of informatives to provide advice and guidance could be used in this instance.
Members were concerned that no comments had been received from Weymouth Town Council and it was noted that this had been due to the impact of Local Government Reorganisation on the consultation timetable for this application which had been validated before 1 April 2019. Whilst some members were mindful of the need to progress the work necessary to ensure completion in time for Easter 2020, other members wanted to make sure that the views and input of Weymouth Town Council were heard.
The Development Manager advised that seeking the views of the Weymouth Town Council would relate to planning matters only and that comments regarding the operation or maintenance of the building were not material to the planning application.
It was proposed by Cllr Gray and seconded by Cllr Barrow to delay the decision pending consultation with Weymouth Town Council. Upon being put to a vote this was not supported.
Proposed by Cllr Shortell, seconded by Cllr Cocking.
Decision: That the application be granted subject to the conditions outlined in the appendix to these minutes.