Council gives go-ahead to town centre regeneration
PUBLISHED: 07:00 15 April 2016
Ambitious plans to revitalise Weston-super-Mare town centre by building 900 homes, a transport interchange and a potential primary school were this week given the green light by North Somerset Council.
The proposals will create a ‘priority zone’ for development, which spans from Weston Railway Station to the seafront, and will see the council work alongside the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to build housing at several town centre sites.
These include Locking Road car park, a brownfield site close to the station at Sunnyside Road, the former Sands nightclub and Oxford Corner chip shop and the fourth phase of the Dolphin Square development, which was handed over to the HCA by developer McLaren Life last week.
The fourth phase of the development was originally meant to be used for shops but, following the HCA’s takeover of the site, this now looks unlikely.
The council’s executive voted to approve the plans on Tuesday.
However, the authority’s deputy leader and executive member for housing, Elfan Ap Rees, played down fears over the future of Dolphin Square and reassured councillors North Somerset is still committed to offering a good range of shops in the town centre.
He told the meeting: “If any future developer was looking at retail on that site (Dolphin Square), it would require a new planning application, which would be decided on its merits.
“It would be nice to think there would be more demand for retail in Weston town centre. I think we are facing changes in the way retail operates, with a lot of online shopping, so we are in a changing environment.
“But what we want to do is have a really strong town centre retail option in Weston and the priority is to boost the main town centre retail, and include additions where we can.”
The move was widely welcomed by councillors, although some raised fears about the possible uncertainty surrounding the town centre’s shopping facilities.
Cllr Roz Willis said: “The town needed something and I think the residential part is something which will make the retail better.
“But I do not shop online, I do not shop at Cribbs – I shop at my high street, so I would hate to lose some of what we have.”