Greenhill Gardens petition wins council debate

Esplanade chalets, Weymouth The two-storey Esplanade chalets were given listed status by English Heritage in 2008

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A petition against plans to privatise seafront gardens and facilities at a Dorset resort has gained enough signatures to trigger a council debate.

Weymouth and Portland Borough Council wants to sell part of Greenhill Gardens in Weymouth, saying the chalets on the site are too expensive to maintain.

Petition organiser Gerry Owen said she was worried a new owner would try to develop the site.

The council said covenants would prohibit some forms of development.

A consultation on the plans to sell Greenhill Play Gardens on a 125-year lease is due to close on Friday, the same day Ms Owen intends to present more than 780 signatures to the council.

Facilities included in the plans include 107 chalets, public toilets, cafe, bowling club, putting green, tennis court and children's play facilities.

Covenants released

Ms Owen said: "My concern is, whoever buys the leases will have to make some money and that's going to lead to some form of development."

The council said any transfer of ownership would include covenants restricting the use and development of the site.

It said covenants had been partially released over the years to allow the existing facilities to be built.

A spokeswoman said the authority was aware of a petition that had received more than 600 signatures - the threshold needed to trigger a full council debate.

She said: "If the petition and signatures are all valid then it will be discussed at full council on 5 June."

If the sell-off is approved, the council would put the facilities on the market in July.

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