Pub takes action over Dolphin Square delays

An artist's impression of the completed Dolphin Square development.

An artist's impression of the completed Dolphin Square development. - Credit: Archant

A LANDLADY has taken legal action against North Somerset Council after claiming ‘years’ of delays surrounding the redevelopment of Dolphin Square have ‘blighted’ her pub.

Dawn Coupe, who owns biker pub Scallys in Carlton Street, served a blight notice against the authority after putting the venue up for sale more than a year ago.

The notice – which can be issued by landowners who believe their property has lost value due to major works such as a new road, railway link or urban regeneration project nearby – is a reverse form of compulsory purchase. If accepted or proven, the notices force authorities to buy properties at their full market value, regardless of any blight.

However, the council has issued a counter notice against Scallys, meaning it does not feel the pub qualifies as being ‘blighted’ by the £45 million Dolphin Square regeneration, despite developer McLaren Life repeatedly pushing back the project’s start date.

The authority’s decision notice said it does not ‘believe’ the pub is blighted and it does not propose to ‘acquire’ the property.

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A further statement within the counter notice decision said: “Even if the property were blighted... the council does not believe the claimant has made reasonable endeavours to sell the property.”

However, Ms Coupe said: “I have been here 22 years and it has been a massive struggle with Dolphin Square being kept closed, especially as I was promised it would be completed in July 2014.

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“The problems really started when the access through Dolphin Square – which I believe is a public right of way – was blocked off.

“I have had eight different start dates for the work in the last three years – how long is it going to go on for? I fear it is going to be just like the Tropicana.

“I have been told a lot of lies over this development and now I am taking legal advice.”

A council spokesman said the authority will fight any action.

The spokesman said: “We received a blight notice from solicitors acting on behalf of the owner of Scally’s public house and have formally objected to the notice.”

North Somerset councillor for Weston Central ward, Richard Nightingale, told the Mercury he will contact Ms Coupe to try to help, but said he was ‘impressed’ by behind-the-scenes council efforts to progress the Dolphin Square project.

Cllr Nightingale said: “Though Dolphin Square is in private hands, it’s clear that everyone has offered and continues to offer every assistance to develop the site in the shortest possible timescale.

“This is a difficult economic climate for complicated retail construction projects, but we must not forget Dolphin Square has taken some big steps. Developers have announced commitments from popular names such as Nando’s, Pizza Express, Prezzo, Real China and now Mimosa’s.

“Along with the exciting increase in the capacity of the site’s cinema, this must be one of the most exciting projects to come to Weston for many years and will ensure the town’s continued development, which I am sure will benefit the whole community.

“After all, the old Dolphin Square site could only be described as an eyesore and a drain on surrounding businesses. The site needed regeneration and I for one will do everything I possibly can to progress the development.”

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