Search under way to find quick Tropicana answer
A QUICK solution to the Tropicana saga – which has plagued Weston for more than a decade – is now being sought by North Somerset Council bosses.
The authority has this week started a search for long-lease tenders with ‘simpler ideas’ for the former swimming pool attraction. And former executive member for tourism, Councillor Elfan Ap Rees, said new interest had already been received from parties wanting to regenerate the site.
Following lessons learned from three failed multi-million-pound schemes, he said the council was hoping to attract a developer with a simple blueprint which could bypass the lengthy EU procurement process.
He said: “This could include refurbishing the existing frontage to provide a restaurant and retail facilities, with a sundeck and leisure area behind where events that are normally run on the Beach Lawns could take place.
“There could be provision for inclusion of an open air pool in the future if the economy improves. But North Somerset Council is not going to pay for it.”
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However, the idea for a scaled-down regeneration has not been welcomed by Grand Pier co-owner Kerry Michael.
He said: “Like everyone else who cares about Weston, I would really like to see the re-development of the Tropicana site. If we are to remain a serious leisure destination for locals and visitors alike, then we need more facilities and a new pool is at the very top of the list.
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“However, I would hate to see a second rate redevelopment where someone splashes over a lick of paint and opens yet another low quality outlet with some false promise of doing something else at some time in the future.
“We should be looking for more. We need a quality redevelopment to further enhance the work that has already been done and not a quick fix that will quickly look tatty.”
The council hopes a tender for the front of the attraction and then, later, possible expansion to the swimming pool could avoid the EU procurement process. The strict regulations are designed to help the council pick firms to develop large construction schemes. But the process takes months as the council must advertise the tender throughout Europe.
As part of the search for a new tender, the council has also set out an urgent plan to ‘tidy up’ the site, which has been used to store recyclable material from recent seafront building works.