Dorset Council has given itself planning permission for a new harbour store at Lyme Regis  – despite it being described as ‘a monstrosity’ by neighbours.

Councillors decided that the economy of the harbour and the lack of alternative sites gave them little option but to approve the application.

Former harbours committee chairman Cllr Kate Wheller told the area planning committee that despite much of the area being a conservation area it was a working harbour and secure storage for the harbourmaster and fishing fleet was needed.

She said that some work had been done to change the plans in view of comments during the consultation stage, including lowering the height of the building.

Said Cllr John Worth: “This is a commercial, working, harbour and we need these facilities for it to be viable…I can understand the residents' concerns, but we need to consider the economy as well.”

The site, off Ozone Terrace and opposite the boat store, is currently being used as an open storage area. It is adjacent to the public toilets and the bowling green.

The application for planning consent said that the town now has a fleet of 20 fishing boats which has become a ‘major local economic driver’. It said that having a secure storage area would help in sustaining and promoting that commercial activity.

The building will have three roller doors with a slate or corrugated metal roof. Architects say the building would have no impact on the nearby Grade 1 listed Cobb.

But according to residents who wrote in to object the store could present a danger to pedestrians as vehicles come and go and would be out of keeping with the area as well as being contrary to the council’s declared policies to enhance conservation and heritage areas.

It was described by some objectors as either a ‘monstrous building’ or a ‘monstrosity’ with some saying they believed it to be unnecessary, or should be sited elsewhere, possibly to the western end of Monmouth Beach.

Despite their fears about safety highways officers raised no objections and said there would be little difference in traffic movements with the new building, compared to now. They said the area had no recorded pedestrian accidents.