Council opts for rival bid for £90m waterfront scheme, despite initially backing Urban Catalyst–Terry Farrell team.

Developer Urban Catalyst and architect Terry Farrell and Partners have hit out after Weymouth council ditched their £90m scheme to revamp the Dorset town’s waterfront.

The pair were part of a consortium with Carillion that was in line to redevelop a strip of public land containing Weymouth Pavilion and the ferry terminal. The council appeared to have chosen the consortium as its redevelopment partner on the advice of its own management committee.

However, a public consultation as part of the process found that there was popular support for a rival bid by developer Howard Holdings and architect Barlow Henley.

Both teams were asked to re-present their designs to the council for a final decision.

At a vote last Thursday, councillors voted 18-14 to take forward the Howard bid.

A source close to the Urban Catalyst–Farrell team said: “We were actually very disappointed. We had their management committee recommending our scheme and we were awaiting formal ratification.”

The insider added that the team had not been convinced of the feasibility of the 130-berth marina planned in the Howard scheme.

The source said: “The main difference between the two schemes was they were proposing a major marina. We took a view that it would be environmentally difficult to achieve.”

However, Martin Jepson, director at Howard Holdings, said that he was confident a marina could be built without having an environmental impact on the beach.

As well as the marina, the Howard scheme will comprise a theatre containing world heritage and tourist information centres, a 125-bed four- or five-star hotel with conference facilities, a ferry terminal, 130 flats and a public square and boulevard.

Mike Stowell, a director at Terry Farrell and Partners, said the practice was unhappy to have lost out after being the clear favourite.

He said: “It's a great shame. The management committee had recommended our scheme, but when it came down to it, the council was split.”

A spokesperson for Weymouth and Portland council said: “The management committee put the Urban Catalyst bid forward after assessing the technical and financial aspects of the bid.”

However the spokesperson added that the Howard Holdings scheme had been chosen because it had the support of most of the councillors.