One down, one left in Tropicana bid

PUBLISHED: 13:00 27 January 2011

Protesters at the cancelled Tropicana development meeting at the Winter Gardens.

Protesters at the cancelled Tropicana development meeting at the Winter Gardens.

Archant

THE future of the Tropicana now lies in the hands of one Weston man, who this week claimed that his ideas for the closed-down attraction are still viable and can go ahead.

Protesters at the cancelled Tropicana development meeting at the Winter Gardens.

Businessman Richard Nightingale made the statement to the Mercury after rival developer Havard Tisdale withdrew its development bid, believing its project could no longer work economically.

The Wiltshire-based firm, which proposed a leisure complex with a hotel and swimming pool, said factors such as the rise in building costs and other town developments were to blame.

But despite the firm’s pessimism, Mr Nightingale says his water park scheme is viable and he is looking forward to forging ahead with plans.

He is now urging North Somerset Council officers to stick to an eight-week decision deadline he set two weeks ago, calling need for urgency ‘essential’.

Protesters at the cancelled Tropicana development meeting at the Winter Gardens.

He said: “The Tropicana has always been a leisure facility, and in its heyday was a huge benefit to the local community and Weston’s tourist trade, and can be again.

“We look forward to working closely with North Somerset Council - however, residents must be under no illusion that Havard Tisdale’s withdrawal does not automatically mean our scheme will be accepted. I think it is still important that we continue to ask the council to make a decision in the next eight weeks, as I recently announced.

“The commercial pressures of the Dolphin Square development dictate an early decision and, in turn, will guarantee the success of a leading leisure facility on the Tropicana site.”

Speaking on Havard Tisdale’s withdrawal from the bidding process, Mr Nightingale said viability measures meant he was sure his scheme would not suffer the same fate.

He said: “Our proposals consider the site as a whole. It will remain under the control of the Nightingale Group, and will not be split up or sold off.

“Our viability calculations have been formulated in conjunction with the largest leisure operator in the UK and the most prominent designer of water parks. Through these experts, they are well researched and demonstrated as viable.”

The comments come a week after a small demonstration was held by supporters of Mr Nightingale’s scheme outside a cancelled public exhibition set up to display the two schemes last Friday.

The band of 20 people made the stand to call on the council to move matters forward ‘to give the regeneration scheme the best possible chance of success’.

North Somerset Council leader Nigel Ashton has said the council must still follow the EU procurement process, but added it should be concluded sooner now only one bidder is involved.

He added: “We are looking forward to continuing to work with the Nightingale Group on its proposals.”

A public exhibition showing Mr Nightingale’s proposal for the Tropicana is to take place at the Sovereign Shopping Centre from 9am-5.30pm tomorrow (Fri).

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