Councillors put the boot in at final Tropicana debate

PLANS to build a £25million leisure complex at Weston's Tropicana were given the green light last week - but it was a close call

PLANS to build a £25million leisure complex at Weston's Tropicana were given the green light last week - but it was a close call.North Somerset councillors agreed on Tuesday (Jan 16) by 26 votes to 18, to go ahead and sign an agreement with bosses at Henry Boot Developments to allow them to redevelop the derelict seafront site. At the authority's full council meeting seven councillors decided not to vote on plans for the complex, which will be called Lifestation@Tropicana.Development manager for Henry Boot, Craig Mathias, says he now wants to submit a full planning application by the summer.He said: "Lifestation@Tropicana is in a position to make a major contribution to the ongoing regeneration of Weston."It is an extremely complex project but now the development agreement has been approved, we can move forward confidently."We are also in the last stages of finalising legal agreements with operators for various part of the scheme and we will be announcing these as soon as we can."At Tuesday's meeting councillors were divided over whether to go ahead and sign the development agreement, which includes plans for a leisure pool, hotel, skate park, 10-pin bowling centre and shops.During the meeting Councillor Robert Payne, who voted against signing the agreement, said: "I find it ridiculous to say that this scheme will have people flocking to Weston. I find it uninspiring. We are trying to cram too many individual things into the site available."Councillor John Crockford-Hawley, who also voted against signing the agreement, said: "I think this is an excellent scheme. It provides us with multi-purpose facilities."It would make a great addition to Locking Castle. But here on the beach - no."The developer's head lease includes details, which would mean for the first 20 years the developer cannot change the swimming pool complex to another use.Councillor Peter Kehoe, who voted in favour of the scheme, said: " This isn't just a tourist facility, it is a facility for the youth of Weston. "I believe we have a wonderful opportunity to improve the town."Before the council finalises the agreement with Henry Boot some legal documents have to be signed off. This is expected to be completed by next week.The developer must also fulfil several criteria before the development agreement becomes unconditional. It must confirm that the scheme will include a new indoor pool complex, that the pool, hotel, bowling centre, cinema and children's play area must be let or sold, that the developer must enter into a bond of £1million to enable the council to restore the site if work starts but cannot be finished and that geo-technical and geo-environmental surveys must be completed.If the conditions are not met within two years the development agreement will become invalid, unless there is a time extension for planning appeals and judicial reviews.

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