Friends win battle for town green status

PUBLISHED: 08:00 17 June 2013

Prince Consort Gardens.

Prince Consort Gardens.

Archant

'LOCALISM'S finest hour' has helped protect Weston's Prince Consort Gardens from development for generations to come, after it was awarded town green status this week.

Friends of Prince Consort Gardens Shirley Hardy and Brian Wilkinson cleaning out the boating pond.Friends of Prince Consort Gardens Shirley Hardy and Brian Wilkinson cleaning out the boating pond.

That’s the verdict of ward member John Crockford-Hawley after North Somerset Council was left ‘with no other option’ but agree the status for the beauty spot following the publication of a barrister’s report.

The council voted unanimously last Wednesday to protect the gardens from development by giving it the title.

Brian Wilkinson, chairman of the Friends of Prince Consort Gardens (FOPCG), said the group’s campaigning had showed there are people willing to fight to protect the area.

He also urged the council should bear this in mind when making future decisions on plans for the nearby Birnbeck Pier and the former Royal Pier Hotel site.

Mr Wilkinson said: “Who knows what will happen if Weston has a choice between the development and the view?

“We have had the view for the past 150 years and couldn’t consider why suddenly we had to lose it.

“But what has happened now the garden is registered with the council is it shows people care about Weston and the view.

“The council can take a strong position for the people of Weston now.”

Cllr Crockford-Hawley said the hard work put in by the group meant they had a first-class case in applying for town green status.

He said: “Any councillors who may have considered opposing the designation had the rug pulled from under them following the publication of a consultant barrister’s opinion which left North Somerset with no option other than to designate, and this it did unanimously.

“This has been localism’s finest hour in Weston and shows that, with determination and a thorough grasp of the law, it is possible to force the reluctant municipal hand.

“My ward colleagues and I are mightily pleased with the result.”

But Wahid Samady, who wants to build accommodation and commercial properties on the land around Birnbeck – which would impact upon views from the gardens – said the decision will not affect his plans.

Mr Samady said: “I think that’s very good news for the town. For us and for everybody.

“We have always wanted the Prince Consort Gardens to be preserved and enhanced so it can be around for generations in the future to enjoy.”

Mr Samady said he hoped the move would promote more debate for how to revitalise the area.

He said: “It reinforces the need for redevelopment of the north part of the town.

“More debate needs to happen to balance the town’s priorities in relation to preserving and regenerating the pier and the island.

“I hope people have a debate about it and the priorities and compromises.”

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