Last chance to find a 'fix' for Tropicana as demolition looms

PUBLISHED: 09:00 28 October 2011 | UPDATED: 11:27 28 October 2011

Soft market testing has been released to attract any final developers for the Tropicana site.

Soft market testing has been released to attract any final developers for the Tropicana site.

Archant

A FINAL attempt to find a Tropicana developer was launched this week - amid suspicions North Somerset Council is 'going through the motions' as it looks to demolish the seafront site.

The council executive has enlisted real estate advisor DTZ to market the crumbling landmark to interested parties as it looks to find a would-be developer for a small-scale regeneration.

Stipulations for any potential scheme include staying within the current site footprint, proving any ideas are financially robust - and sticking to a budget of £3.5million or under.

However, fears have been raised by opposition councillors that the ruling Tory group is simply looking to impress a public which desperately wants the former pool redeveloped, while actually planning to pull it down.

Liberal Democrat leader Mike Bell said: “The administration has effectively watered down the plans and they have not fully taken on board the research of the working party.

“It feels as though they are disguising the process, to show at the end we have made every possible effort and then have to knock it down. This site is for our local economy and is the missing piece of the seafront puzzle.

“There is a mentality among some senior Conservative councillors that tourism does not bring anything to Weston and it’s not the council’s job to make that happen. I cannot disagree more - if the council is not there to help our economy and a vibrant leisure scene then what are we here for?”

“My worry is the administration is determined to go through the motions and then knock it down.

“My view is if this is the last resort, then fair enough but I do not think that we have proved it’s the last resort.”

And he was supported by Labour group leader Richard Tucker, who added: “The previous record of the council on the Tropicana does not exactly fill you with hope that something worthwhile will result from this latest market-testing exercise and perhaps their long-term objective is to seek an excuse to demolish it.”

The new marketing project has a two-month deadline, and the Tropicana working party plans to meet again in November to discuss its findings.

Working party chairman Elfan Ap Rees said interest would be welcomed from people or companies with serious and well-funded plans - but admitted demolition could prove the only alternative.

He said: “We cannot justify continuing with people just coming up with ideas and not having anything to back them up. The building is slowly deteriorating and we are facing increasing safety issues.

“Serious companies need to have proposals and they need to be in front of us within a matter of weeks. If we do not have these proposals which are funded then there is no option but to look seriously at demolishing the site.”

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