Tropicana, Weston-super-Mare - English Heritage says 'pull it down'
By Carol_Deacon | Saturday, March 16, 2013, 13:19
CONSERVATION watchdog English Heritage has confirmed its support for the demolition of Weston-super-Mare's dilapidated Tropicana - prompting questions over whether plans to regenerate the one time landmark will ever get off the ground.
North Somerset Council was granted conservation area consent last year to demolish the seafront site.
But Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, is currently reviewing the matter after campaigners fighting to redevelop the site, Trop (WSM)Ltd appealed against the initial decision, claiming it was flawed.
As part of his review, Mr Pickles - who is due to announce his decision on the fate of the Tropicana in the coming weeks - has re-consulted English Heritage.
And although the conservation body gave its support to plans by Trop (WSM) Ltd to redevelop the Tropicana, it has also given its backing to council plans to demolish the site.
A spokesman for English Heritage said: "Although the Tropicana is not listed, it stands within a conservation area which is why English Heritage has been consulted on proposals for its redevelopment.
"There is a lot of local affection for this beachfront 1930s lido, despite many years of dereliction.
"We recently supported a planning proposal for its reuse which was approved by North Somerset Council.
"This application did not need to consider viability.
"However, a separate Conservation Area Consent application to demolish the building was considered a year ago by the Department for Communities and Local Government.
"Part of the justification for that application was that there was no viable use for the building.
"English Heritage did not object to the demolition of the Tropicana at that time.
"This application is again being considered by the Department for Communities and Local Government.
"However, there is no new evidence to substantiate an alternative view other than demolition, because the current proposal is not considered viable.
"English Heritage regrets that we have to maintain our position for demolition of the swimming pool."
The news comes just weeks after councillors unanimously approved plans to redevelop the Tropicana into an all year round attraction.
But although councillors approved the scheme, which includes an outdoor and indoor pool, the council, which owns the building, still needs to grant landlord's consent for any development to go ahead.
Trop (WSM) Ltd has been campaigning for over a year now for the opportunity to work in partnership with the council to refurbish the site.
The campaign group has also asked for the council to transfer the ownership of the Tropicana to it 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.
If Mr Pickles upholds his decision it will give the authority the green light to knock the building down, at an estimated cost of £700,000
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.