Campaign begins to get the Winter Gardens heritage status
PUBLISHED: 09:00 02 February 2015
A CAMPAIGN to get the Winter Gardens listed as a historic building by English Heritage has begun after North Somerset Council agreed to transfer the venue to Weston College for a nominal £1 fee.
The plans to redevelop the building into a university hub were first announced in October, and the development will see £15million worth of investment pumped into the building.
But now the Protect The Weston Winter Gardens Campaign, run by Mark Thyer and Steven Harrison, has applied to English Heritage to get the building listed in a bid to give it ‘extra protection’ against future development.
Mr Thyer said: “It came about when reading all about the fact it was sold for £1 to the college; we looked at it and realised the actual building wasn’t listed and wasn’t protected.
“The listing would offer a little bit more protection and while we do agree with a lot of what the college is doing, we don’t agree with the actual selling of the Winter Gardens.
“If successful, this will give a heritage status to the building and make any development, current or future, go through a more rigorous planning processes, ensuring the historic nature of the building is not breached.”
He described the development plans as potentially ‘sterilising’ the venue from any future community use, and said: “Without the facility to hold conferences and exhibitions the business tourists will not come to Weston.
“North Somerset Council is in the process of selling this building to Weston College for £1, thus sterilising it from any future large exhibition or conference use by turning most of the halls within into classrooms.”
But college’s principal Dr Paul Phillips hopes to achieve the opposite, not only matching the venue’s current level of community use but improving upon it in the Mercury’s extensive Q&A on the proposals.
He said: “The council has said they would expect us to deliver to at least the current level in the Winter Gardens. My own view is we can better it.
“We have a massive opportunity at present. Some of the conferences which are held next door (at the Knightstone Campus) could present a real opportunity, to bring them into a busy Winter Gardens, with more facilities for the town.”
A council spokesman said: “We don’t believe a listing by the English Heritage would make any significant difference to our proposals.”
For more information on the campaign search Protect The Winter Gardens Campaign on Facebook or email email@example.com