The ‘health’ of Lyme Regis town centre and its retail needs over the coming years are being assessed – but there is little scope to make change, it has been said.

Dorset Councils Partnership, which includes West Dorset District Council, has commissioned consultants to carry out a retail needs assessment on the town as part of the local plan review.

The aim of the assessment is to identify the town’s strengths and weaknesses so that the local plan can be adapted to meet them by 2036.

An update on the assessment report was discussed by Lyme Regis Town Council’s planning committee on Tuesday, but councillors were critical of the assessment itself.

The assessment has so far found that weaknesses include: a lack of major food store within the centre – with Lyme Regis functioning as a ‘top-up’ area for grocery shopping; having no retail banks and only one cash machine; having poor pedestrian and vehicle accessibility with narrow roads; having a lack of space for any potential new developments and its non-food stores catering mainly for the tourist market, rather than local residents.

Cllr Jeff Scowen said: “We would all quite like a bigger supermarket but where would we put it? It’s 15 minutes to the big Tesco in Seaton, we don’t really need another supermarket.”

Cllr Brian Larcombe agreed, saying: “If you have a large supermarket, the smaller ones might then go under.”

Cllr Michaela Ellis added: “This report tells me nothing different to what I already know. They need to go out and speak to people rather than just walking up and down Lyme.”

The report found that Lyme Regis has a low vacancy rate and not a lot of buildings are unused. It concluded that, overall, Lyme needs only a ‘modest’ amount of extra retail space by 2036.

Cllr Stan Williams said: “There are no real surprises here. What Lyme Regis has empty is small. Bridport has the space and the scope.

Cllr Cheryl Reynolds agreed, saying: “We have the sea on one side and Devon on the other.

“There is not a lot of extra space. The chances of bringing a different type of retail here are unsustainable.

“What’s good about this?

“What’s good about it is someone gets paid to go chomping up and down Lyme."