New windows at Quayside Bar and Kitchen, Weymouth

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A HARBOURSIDE restaurant owner in Weymouth says he was left with no choice but to install new windows without planning permission due to red tape.

First floor windows have been replaced at Quayside Bar and Kitchen – following an outcry last year when the business replaced the original ground floor windows with French doors.

Although not listed, the historic building is in a conservation area. But restaurant owner Michael Allen said the business was forced to act to replace ‘rotting’ windows in order to remain viable, due to high energy costs.

Mr Allen said: “We found ourselves in a situation where we were not getting anywhere with the council’s planning department.

“The summer is fast approaching, and scaffolding is not allowed during the season. We have invested the Covid grant funding we received into maintaining and looking after this old building, and to improve energy efficiency, as the windows were starting to rot and needed replacing. The new windows will ensure our business remains viable.

“Weymouth is dying – Brewer’s Quay is an example of how Planning red tape is contributing to old buildings being left to fall into a derelict state.”

The restaurateur said he was advised to go ahead with the work by an independent planning consultant.

He added: “We were having to pay around £3,000 just to resubmit plans to the council, after the planning team rejected our proposal due to drawings not being to scale.

“An independent Planning consultant advised us to go ahead with the work because the planning backlog at the council caused by Covid would have put us in a very difficult and costly situation had we decided to wait.

“It’s in the public interest for our business to stay open as we are providing employment to the town, with all staff paid more than the minimum wage.

“The old windows meant it actually costs more for us to be open for one month, than to be closed for six months with no income, due to the high costs of heating the building.

“If we open over the winter the heating bill costs us thousands each month.”

Dorset Council said property owners that carry out work without planning permission “do so at their own risk.”

A Dorset Council spokesman said: “If any work is carried out without the benefit of a statutory planning permission, it is at the developers own risk and they are aware of this fact.

“The owner submitted a retrospective planning application during November last year, however following the validation process, it was found that the submitted details were substandard. They had failed to submit suitable drawings, documentation and a correct planning application fee. The owners were informed of this fact by email during the first week of January.

“Currently the Local Planning Authority is awaiting the outstanding material before the planning application can be progressed. Given this current position therefore there no planning case officer allocated to the application.

“It is standard procedure that no enforcement action is pursued when an application has been submitted. We have received confirmation yesterday morning that the owners has now appointed a planning agent to deal with the application and we are now expecting the outstanding material.

“Whilst there is currently a delay of approx. one month for applications to be validated, the council has been awaiting almost two months for the owner/agent to provide the material that is required.”

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