Green light for more shops in town

PUBLISHED: 07:19 25 May 2006 | UPDATED: 09:21 24 May 2010

A MAJOR department store and up to nine other shops should be developed on Weston's Town Square and Italian Gardens, says a shopping centre manager. Nick Cooke, who runs the Sovereign Shopping Centre, is pressing North Somerset Council to give the go-ahea

A MAJOR department store and up to nine other shops should be developed on Weston's Town Square and Italian Gardens, says a shopping centre manager.Nick Cooke, who runs the Sovereign Shopping Centre, is pressing North Somerset Council to give the go-ahead for plans to invest millions in the town's future and build on the open spaces.But leading councillor John Crockford-Hawley said he cannot imagine any political party agreeing to build on the land.Mr Cooke's call for action comes after Government planning inspector Richard Poppleton said the two sites should be considered for the building of shops in the future.The shopping centre manager of 14 years said a number of major shopping chains, including Debenhams, indicated they could be interested in opening on the site between the Winter Gardens and High Street.Mr Cook said: "This recommendation by the planning inspector provides a green light for the council to deliver what the people want."Even if approval was given now, nothing would be built until 2009 at the earliest. We need to pull our finger out."Thousands of houses have been built in the last 15 years and the people living in them need somewhere to shop. At the moment they are going to Taunton or Bristol."The town has loads of green spaces such as the Beach Lawns but no shops. The Town Square was tarmacked over for two years while the Sovereign Centre was being built and has no historical value. People who live in the town want to shop on their doorstep."If it stacked up financially, I feel a major store like Debenhams could come to this town."North Somerset Council's executive member for planning, Cllr Crockford-Hawley said he would be in favour of building on land between the Town Square and the back of the Winter Gardens insteadHe said: "The planning inspector is only suggesting we keep all options open, including the two town sites. But he also says the Town Square is an important open space. "I cannot foresee any political party wishing to develop the Italian Gardens."The council has been studying options for improvements to the town's heart. We do need to attract a quality department store to the town.

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