LYME Regis Town Council are to submit a second planning application to replace old railings on the seafront before they become a health and safety hazard.
Replacement of a 200-metre stretch of railings at the eastern end of Marine Parade has been a long-time objective of the council.
Members first considered the condition of the railings in 2015 when they were told that further ad hoc repairs were no longer practicable.
The council initially agreed to replace the old railings with a more modern design, as seen at the western end of the seafront, which had been installed by the now-defunct West Dorset District Council.
Despite this, advice from West Dorset’s conservation officer recommended like-for-like replacement at the eastern end of Marine Parade, rather than the modern design.
The town council still went ahead with a planning application for a modern replacement in 2017 and this was subsequently refused on the casting vote of the chairman of West Dorset’s Planning Committee.
The refusal notice said the replacement of the railings with a modern modern design would “result in the loss of an important and historic feature in the Conservation Area” and that the proposed design “fails to preserve or enhance the character of the Conservation Area and would be detrimental to the setting of the adjacent listed buildings”.
Considering how best to move forward, discussions were held with planning officers and it was made clear that they were “extremely unlikely” to support anything other than like-for-like replacement of the railings.
The town council’s chosen architects, Boon Brown of Yeovil, then decided they would no longer be involved in the process.
‘Pushing water uphill’
The railings have since continued to deteriorate and, while temporary repairs have been made, council officers have now advised that they are “fast approaching the point where they constitute a health and safety risk”.
Councillors were asked at a recent Town Management & Highways Committee meeting whether they still wanted to pursue the modern design or a like-for-like replacement.
Deputy town clerk Mark Green said he was happy to pursue whatever options councillors decided on, but warned that moving forward with the modern design may be “like pushing water uphill”.
It was also reported that the modern design railings may be the more expensive option, with the latest quote obtained in 2015/16 standing at £35,000, which did not include the cost of removing the old railings or installation of the replacement.
The latest quote for like-for-like replacement, obtained in 2018, was £45,000, which did include removal and installation.
Mr Green advised that, although they were described at like-for-like, it was likely the new railings would have some minor differences to meet modern safety standards.
Councillors noted the importance of getting the railings replaced as soon as possible to avoid a health and safety issue, and agreed to pursue the like-for-like design with a second planning application.
It is hoped the work to replace the railings will take place in autumn 2021.