Fresh hopes for Tropicana at Weston after English Heritage withdraw support for demolition

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By Prue_Reid | Tuesday, February 26, 2013, 20:12

ENGLISH Heritage has withdrawn its support for the demolition of Weston-super-Mare's dilapidated Tropicana.

The move comes after plans by campaign group Trop(WSM)Ltd to turn the one time landmark into an all year attraction were approved by councillors.

English Heritage, which had previously backed North Somerset Council's move to demolish the Tropicana, has now had a change of heart and supported the plans to regenerate the seafront site.

It says it now sees the demolition of the building as harmful to the surrounding conservation area and that the application to develop the site has merit.

In a letter in response to the planning application, English Heritage said: "We consider that there is sufficient merit in the current outline proposal to outweigh our previous view on demolition.

"The positive regeneration of this lido to create a new swimming pool facility is a public benefit.

The move comes at the same time as Secretary of State for communities and local government, Eric Pickles, is reviewing his decision to grant the authority conservation area consent after Trop (WSM) Ltd appealed against it, claiming it was flawed.

The conservation watchdog has also asked Mr Pickles to reconsider his views regarding the case for demolition.

If Mr Pickles finds in favour of campaigners, demolition of the landmark by the council - expected to cost an estimated £700,000 -  may be halted.

The application was drawn up for Trop(WSM)Ltd by Nailsea based Sutherland Property and Legal Services.

Director Amanda Sutherland said: "We are delighted that the planning committee showed its unanimous support for our scheme and that the planning teams were able to support us through the planning process to a successful conclusion.

"We look forward to moving on to the delivery of this wonderful facility for the people of Weston."

Even if Mr Pickles withdraws his consent, the battle to develop the Tropicana is still far from over.

As owners of the building, North Somerset Council still needs to grant landlord's consent for any development to go ahead.

The plans for the Tropicana include erecting a new two storey building with a mezzanine floor and creating a 50 metre indoor competition pool, outdoor pool and separate activity area with changing facilities and a restaurant.

There are also plans for shops to be included along with a spa and a temporary music stage.

Trop (WSM) Ltd has also asked for the council to transfer the ownership of the Tropicana to them for £1 and has pledged to carry out the demolition of the building itself if the scheme is not completed within a three year timescale.

Campaigners are now hoping to meet with the authority's powerful executive to hold talks about how the scheme can be moved forward.

The Tropicana has lay vacant for 12 years and more recently has been used as a storage depot by contractors Birse during a £29 million project to enhance the resort's sea defences.

There have been several attempts to bring the Tropicana back to life over the last several years - each of which has failed.





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