Seaquarium hopes to expand with plans including 91-metre viewing tower

PUBLISHED: 08:00 14 July 2015

Weston-s-Mare SeaQuarium.

Weston-s-Mare SeaQuarium.

Archant

A NEW two-storey building and a 91-metre viewing tower overlooking Weston could be built as part of an expansion to the town’s SeaQuarium.

Weston-s-Mare SeaQuarium.Weston-s-Mare SeaQuarium.

The attraction’s owners have submitted a pre-planning application enquiry to North Somerset Council which also mentions a possible new dinosaur exhibit.

The expansion has been hailed as ‘great news’ for Weston, bringing ‘growth and investment’ and creating new jobs in the town.

The SeaQuarium – which has just celebrated its 20th anniversary – has not undergone any significant external redevelopment since it opened.

But now the venue could enjoy huge investment to create a new building and viewing platform offering unrivalled views across Weston.

The SeaQuarium – which is owned by West Midlands Safari Park – hopes to relocate its existing offices, café, gift shop, restaurant and retail outlet into a new two-storey building on the beach, facing the promenade.

Its current building will be used to house a new attraction – potentially a dinosaur-related exhibit.

Weston-s-Mare SeaQuarium.Weston-s-Mare SeaQuarium.

A 91-metre viewing tower has also been detailed within its plans.

The move has been welcomed for its potential to bring extra visitors to Weston while at the same time boosting employment.

Richard Nightingale, whose North Somerset Council ward Weston Central which includes the SeaQuarium, said: “I am very pleased that yet another organisation has earmarked Weston as the place to invest, grow, and create more employment.

“It shows how far we have come as a town and community when we are shorted listed for such projects and we can not underestimate the importance of providing more jobs locally.”

But he also highlighted the need for consultation surrounding any potential expansion, and said: “We need to see far more detail, and a formal planning application, so residents can be involved in any decision.

“I really feel it’s crucial that the successful future growth of Weston takes into account the views of everyone who lives in our community. It’s important that this new proposal should undergo the same local consultation.”

A spokesman from the council said: “These are exciting plans and we are pleased that the company has got these plans for Weston.

“But of course there is a planning procedure that needs to be followed before those plans can come into fruition.”

The manager of Weston’s Business Improvement District, Steve Townsend, described it as ‘great news’.

He said: “I think it’s a great idea. I think anything they can do to increase its capacity will be good for them and I also think it’s good for the town.

“We live in England, we need more indoor attractions as well as the outdoor ones.

“Down in Weymouth their aquarium has a tower and that’s proved quite an attraction and that’s right on the seafront.

“I think it’s all great news, it’s really nice to see that a big company like West Midlands Safari Park are considering investing more in our town.”

West Midlands Safari Park declined to comment on its plans.

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