Basic concept remains unchanged

IN A letter to the editor of October 2000, written shortly after the first planning application for the Tropicana had been filed with the council, I expressed concern regarding the

IN A letter to the editor of October 2000, written shortly after the first planning application for the Tropicana had been filed with the council, I expressed concern regarding the portrayed height and bulk of the redevelopment proposals and the loss to car parking of a section of the Beach Lawns.I believe my concern was shared by the majority of Westonians, but despite seven years of consultation and planning, the basic concept remains largely unchanged and, in fact, incorporates an intensification of the initial proposals which I suggest many members of the public have not taken on board. It is all too clear the scheme is no longer a swimming pool with supporting features, but a retail and leisure development, with secondary water park, of such size as to constitute a commercial complex.The retail and leisure assessment documentation filed on behalf of the developer does confirm that whilst the Tropicana is 'a little detached from the town centre' the redevelopment will 'contribute to the regeneration of the town centre'. The emphasis on commercialism becomes self evident as a result of this statement, even if the accuracy of the claim is to be questioned. In this respect the planning authority's description of the development details the number of hotel bedrooms and car spaces, additional to the other features, but reference is not made to the fact the retail and food outlets number 19, which are further increased by four external sales kiosks, flanking the open air theatre on the raised piazza. The creation of the piazza will result in major changes to the existing traffic flow, with the result the Marine Parade will be no longer one through-route, but a re-formed two 'halves'.The unavoidable consequence of development of this intensity will surely lead to this section of the seafront being commercialised to a degree akin to a shopping centre. This claim must surely gain credence by the fact the greater part of the water park is not contained within the four walls of the Tropicana, but is merely a semi circular 'appendage' tacked on to the external face of the rear wall of the existing structure. The Tropicana is in the Beach Lawn conservation area. Such areas are created because they are of 'special architectural or historic interest and their character and appearance should be preserved or even enhanced'.How can the council hope to reconcile such designation and control with approval of the current application?In the world of today, it is accepted some degree of commercialism to support a scheme of this type may well be unavoidable but when the water park is such a minuscule part of the whole the fundamental justification for the development is lost. This must dictate the need for further negotiation with Henry Boot and reassessment by the council of its priorities.The council will be aware the lengthy retail and leisure assessment supplied by the developers closes with the following comment: "Should the Henry Boot application be refused, then it is certain the site will remain vacant for some time to come, not least because any other developer will have been discouraged from taking the site".Electors in North Somerset must hope such comment from this source will not deter their councillors from deferring this application for further negotiation. It is not too late, even at this eleventh hour, to protect the town from a mistake of the magnitude so evident from the detail within the planning application now lodged.PETER STEPHEN - Uphill Road North, Weston


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