Mixed reaction for plans to regenerate Weston-super-Mare town centre

Weston Town Centre Regeneration - the masterplan. Credit: North Somerset Council

Weston Town Centre Regeneration - the masterplan. Credit: North Somerset Council - Credit: North Somerset Council

Plans to breathe new life into Weston town centre have sparked controversy between residents and businesses with some people calling it a ‘welcomed approach’ and others branding it ‘over-ambitious’.

North Somerset Council invited members of the public to comment on the draft Town Centre Regeneration Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) over a six-week period, which ended on December 12.

The document outlined plans to transform Alexandra Parade into a bus interchange, give the front of the Sovereign Shopping Centre a makeover and pedestrianise parts of the town.

The document received 82 responses from both businesses and residents and opinions were divided.

Forty-five per cent of the responses were from residents and the majority had concerns with the traffic and parking problems.

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Weston town councillor Anita Spencer-Johns was alarmed by the potential congestion around the town and the proposed housing developments.

She added: “It is totally beyond me why (the council) would consider filling every little gap within Weston with housing.

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“It is about time (it) asked what the people of Weston want.”

Another resident said: “Weston town centre does not need an additional 1,000 new homes. It needs more job creation and more leisure to attract the younger people living in outlying villages.”

Most community groups and businesses who commented supported the proposal, stating the regeneration will ‘benefit residents and the town’s economy’.

Town Centre Churches said: “We fully support the thrust of the SPD to develop Weston as a thriving university town.

“We see the benefit a larger young adult and student population could bring to the town in energy, vision, aspiration, entrepreneurial skills and future business start ups.”

North Somerset councillor Tom Leimdorfer shared the group’s views. He said: “The type of housing envisaged should help to balance the age profile of the town and attract a greater variety of retailers.”

However, Cllr Leimdorfer was concerned primary medical care – such as GPs and dentists – would be treated as an ‘after-thought’ and would be unable to cope with a rising demand from people moving to the area.

The comments made during the consultation will be reviewed and a report will go to full council in the new year. The council will decide what changes to make before the SPD is formally adopted as the town’s planning document.

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