An ‘unprecedented opportunity’ to ‘guarantee’ Weston-super-Mare’s future?
PUBLISHED: 07:00 11 April 2016
Ambitious new plans to transform Weston-super-Mare will create a ‘priority zone’ for hundreds of houses in the town centre – but a councillor has warned the development must include ‘the right priorities’ for the town.
The zone will span from Weston Railway Station to the seafront and will see North Somerset Council work alongside the Homes and Communities Agency to turn a number of sites, including the former Sands nightclub, the Oxford Corner chip shop and an area of Sunnyside Road, into upmarket developments.
The HCA is also planning to build homes at Locking Road car park and the Weston Links site, close to the Flowerdown retail park, and will also submit a planning application for the former police station and magistrates’ court sites in Walliscote Road this summer.
Meanwhile, the agency has also completed a deal to buy the fourth phase of Dolphin Square – which was earmarked for shops – from developer McLaren Life, as revealed by the Mercury last week.
A HCA spokesman said about 200 homes are planned for that area.
He added: “Out towards the railway station the HCA has acquired both the vacant land at Sunnyside Road and Locking Road car park for a scheme which will deliver up to 500 homes and create a new entrance to the town centre.”
A council spokesman said: “This offers an unprecedented opportunity to drive regeneration forward on a large scale.
“Detailed proposals for individual sites have yet to be determined and the council will continue to work with and support the HCA in taking these forward, as part of the wider programme of work to improve the town centre.”
The council’s deputy leader and executive member for housing, Elfan Ap Rees, believes the plans will encourage ‘high-end’ residents to live in Weston.
He said: “Fundamentally, when you look at the overall plan, we are looking at a range of different properties.
“One of the things we are quite keen on in Weston is to encourage high-end residents to balance the market, but also to balance the shopping experience.”
Central ward councillor Richard Nightingale also welcomed the news, but warned future development must include ‘the right priorities’ for the town.
He said: “Weston has come so far in recent years and this latest investment is not only a show of confidence, it will help to guarantee Weston’s future.
“Residential developments (however), though important, are not enough on their own. We also need to support and expand both our leisure and retail elements.
“That is why we must look closely at projects, especially Dolphin Square, to make sure we insist developers include the right priorities.”
In addition to the HCA’s scheme, the council’s executive will consider plans at its meeting next week for wider town centre regeneration.
The plans include creating a tree-lined boulevard along Station Road, Walliscote Grove Road and Carlton Street, improving the town square, creating a provision for a new primary school and expanding support for Weston College’s university centre and student housing.
Alexandra Parade, meanwhile, may be turned into a ‘transport interchange’.
The council’s spokesman said: “The objective for Alexandra Parade is to create a transport interchange which is easier for people to navigate and is an attractive enhancement to the town centre.
“The proposal is for Alexandra Parade to be much more pedestrian-friendly, although not wholly pedestrianised, and to make it easier for people to navigate their way around and find bus stops.
“There is a lot of further work to do and we will involve taxi firms, bus operators and other key groups to determine what is best for the site.”
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