Target for arsonists
WHILE most of Weston begins slowly to smarten up, the same cannot be said of the Birnbeck area which teeters on the edge of terminal decline.
WHILE most of Weston begins slowly to smarten up, the same cannot be said of the Birnbeck area which teeters on the edge of terminal decline. Yet who is to blame?
News this week of the fire at the (abandoned) Royal Pier Hotel should come as no surprise. Derelict buildings are targets for arsonists and if they are not insured then their owners will face serious loss.
So why was the Royal Pier Hotel closed in the first place? I believe that the owners had planning permission to partially convert to flats so why was this option not taken up earlier and the money raised used to refurbish the hotel?
Now, following the fire, the northern section of the seafront walk is closed too, and if the past is anything to go by, these scruffy barriers will clutter the area for years to come.
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The priority for any seaside town trying to regenerate is to redevelop its derelict sites. A town such as Weston cannot afford to be too fussy as to the nature of this redevelopment, if there is a demand for residential units then let hotels convert. If at a later stage tourism requires more hotel accommodation then existing HMOs will be re-converted, and existing hotels upgraded.
A conservative controlled council should see the benefits of a market-led approach instead of rigid and outdated structure plans. Let us hope that commonsense prevails in the Birnbeck area.
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ROGER H BROWN