North Somerset Council urged to take on Weston-super-Mare’s TJ Hughes building
- Credit: Archant
The vacant former TJ Hughes building in Weston town centre should be taken over by North Somerset Council, according to one of the town’s councillors.
The prominent High Street store has stood empty since it closed in 2011, despite Dove Properties buying the site for £670,000 in 2013.
The Mercury contacted Dove Properties for an update on progress last week, but the firm said it had ‘no news’ and stressed negotiations with the council about the building were ongoing.
However, Central ward councillor Richard Nightingale has now called for the council to take hold of the site and bring it back into public use by carrying out a compulsory purchase order (CPO).
Compulsory purchase orders can be undertaken by organisations such as local authorities once other ways of bringing disused buildings back into use have been explored, but they are not a cheap solution.
Cllr Nightingale said: “We simply cannot let the complete lack of activity on such an important building stand in the way of progress. Dove Properties must redouble its efforts to bring the site back into use, (otherwise) I believe the council should consider making plans to carry out a CPO.”
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The idea of a CPO was also vaguely supported by fellow Central ward councillor Mike Bell, who said: “I’m not against looking at a compulsory purchase, but there are obviously a few issues. Where does the money come from?
“Eventually, town centre regeneration should lead to an uplift in market conditions, creating momentum to breathe life into empty buildings. But that could take years, so it’s right to ask what other proactive steps the council can take in the meantime.”
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A council spokesman said the authority had not considered carrying out a CPO.
The spokesman said: “We have been working with the owner of the building to offer advice on future uses. The building is being marketed and we will continue to support where we can.”