Approval for Winter Gardens plans?
PUBLISHED: 09:00 12 October 2015 | UPDATED: 16:53 12 October 2015
WESTON College’s revamp of the Winter Gardens in Weston-super-Mare is one step closer to reality, after its planning application was recommended for approval.
North Somerset Council’s planning and regulatory committee will be discussing the application at its next meeting on Wednesday.
The council agreed to transfer the seafront venue to the college for just £1 in January, with plans for it to be transformed into a law and professional services centre.
The project will cost £15million – although the college is still awaiting funding conformation from the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) – and the venue’s ballroom will be refurbished and its pavilion restored.
A single-storey eastern extension built in the 1980s will be bulldozed and replaced with a two-storey extension, which will become its main entrance. Ten seminar rooms will be created and the Prince Consort Hall split into two, making way for a court room and a large lecture theatre.
The plans split public opinion when they were revealed, with some Mercury readers calling it a ‘massive improvement’ while others were concerned about how community use of the venue will be retained.
But college principal Dr Paul Phillips said not only will the level of community use be upheld, but the college will ‘better it’.
Councillors will discuss the college’s application and could approve it on Wednesday.
A report produced for the committee says: “The proposal will improve the appearance of the building and its place in the town centre.
"The proposal will improve the appearance of the building and its place in the town centre."
“The college has an important role in the success of the town centre and its expansion is supported.”
On a typical day there could be up to 300 students and 50 staff at the academy, and the issue of parking was tackled in the application.
The recommendation says: “This proposal is unlikely to generate a demand for more than 55 spaces car parking spaces at any point of the day.
“The site is conveniently located in terms of access by public transport.
“There are no objections to the proposal in terms of car parking.”
A college spokesman said: “We have major ambitions for the Winter Gardens as a resource for both community and education purposes.”