Weymouth Area Development Trust
Weymouth at dusk.

First week in July and summer has arrived! Having glorious sunshine. Haven’t updated the Blog in a while, so sorry guys, this is a long one.

WADT has been really busy the last month or so. We have had our first meeting with new Board members and they are fantastic. A wide range of skills and a big commitment to Weymouth. All are residents, some were born here, some have lived here all their lives and some have moved here in the last few years because they love the Town. We need a new Board photo and some biographies so we can introduce them to everyone. Working on it.

The Starfish Enterprise CoWork Hub is settling into Hope House, 2 Dorchester Road. (Behind the tall St Johns Church) and the community of businesses is settling down. We still have our trainees and regular Construction Skills Certificate courses happening with SWRAC, the desk area has been busy with a couple of new members, one supports young people in crisis and one has a ‘creative digital’ business. We are working on getting signage and better visibility. If you, or someone you know, is looking for a cowork community where they can work for themselves but not by themselves, give Hayley a ring on 01305 457887. We have now had the super super fast leaseline installed, so we are back up to speed.

I am meeting this week with the Weymouth Coastal Community Teams Weymouth Quay Regeneration Project Board. Which is a bit of a mouthful but henceforth will be known at the Weymouth Quay Board for short (and because it makes us smile). Right now, work is happening on getting the ‘brief’ right for the works on the Weymouth Quay, and getting architects etc. and we are getting together with Weymouth Bid ,Weymouth College and Weymouth and Portland Chamber of Commerce to look at development of the Centre of Excellence for Small Medium Enterprises. We have so many talented people in this town…its amazing.

Weymouth Community Land Trust steering group has had its first meeting. It was a bit of an introduction to the whole world of Community Land Trusts and next week we will meet up again and look at what can be done to get more affordable homes into Weymouth. Aster Housing are also looking to increase provision in Weymouth, so people are trying hard to tackle the shortage in the town. If you are interested in getting involved, drop me an email at chriswilson@wadt.org.uk.

Last year we looked at starting up a group to write a Neighbourhood Plan for Weymouth Town, but we were advised to put it on the ‘back burner’ by the Locality organisation, until the new Weymouth Town Council were in place. Well, now they are. I have just arranged to meet up with the new Town Clerk Jane Biscombe to talk about it. A Neighbourhood Plan means residents get to have a say in how ‘planning’ works in the area and can be a really powerful way to do this, if a little long winded. So this is a ‘watch this space item’.

This week I have been busy supporting Dorset Council to make a bid for funding called Heritage High Streets Fund Heritage Action Zone (another mouthful). We put together a Partnership group Weymouth Bid, Weymouth Town Council, ourselves and Dorset Council. Dorset Council are taking the lead partner role. The funding is for the conservation and regeneration of heritage high streets and the communities that use them. As Weymouth Town Centre as a whole, is on Historic England’s conservation areas ‘at risk’ register, we thought Weymouth really needs to go for this opportunity. The deadline is really tight though, 12th July. So cross you fingers for Weymouth. So many Towns are applying for this the odds aren’t great, but we need to try.

We are all about collaboration, so some of my time is spent talking through ideas and possibilities with other organisations. Recently we worked with Weymouth Museum to see if we could bid for funding to secure the Clipper building in St Thomas Street. After a year of trying to get the owners to engage with us, they suddenly agreed to give it a try in March this year. So we went all hands on deck to raise the funds and…..we got gazumped a couple of weeks later. Someone (we don’t know who), came forward with cash for full asking price and could complete within a month. The Estate Agent cancelled our viewing. Oh well…..at least somebody has bought it and something may happen with it now.

We are also looking at a campaign called Totally Locally. Google it, we are talking with Weymouth Bid about it. It is all about residents being able to turn around their Town by buying local where they can. It makes a huge difference and Totally Locally shows why. So look out for that. If we can get enough people round a pub table, we will go with it.

Weymouth Area Development Trust is all about residents making a difference in their own Town. I was asked the other day ‘What would be your vision for Weymouth in five years time?’ and at the time I was stumped. I am not good at those sorts of questions. But the answer did come to me the next day. ‘Weymouth. The Town that turned itself around’.