MP critical of Leisuredome failings
PUBLISHED: 10:00 30 June 2013
THE future of Weston's indoor ski centre dream may be in jeopardy after developers refused to confirm the project would go ahead following critical comments from the town's MP.
John Penrose has called on developers OpalTec International to start building the Leisuredome or admit defeat and let someone else have a go.
He said ‘a big opportunity’ has been missed by the failure to get the project up and running, one which he thinks would make Weston a more attractive place to visit.
The £50million Leisuredome scheme at Locking Parklands has been beset by funding difficulties ever since planning permission was unanimously agreed by North Somerset Council two years ago.
In January, OpalTec director Clive Hamilton-Davies told the Mercury building work would not begin before the end of 2013 at the earliest, but he refused to stand by those comments when quizzed this week.
He also previously said the firm had no plans to walk away having invested so much time and money into the project, but similarly refused to reaffirm that commitment this week.
With no apparent prospect of building work starting in the coming months, Mr Penrose has called on the company to be realistic about what it can achieve, or else Weston risks losing a major asset.
He said: “The snowdome is such a great idea. It would really broaden Weston’s appeal.
“We are already famous for a great beach and great seafront, but having a snowdome and climbing wall could really broaden our appeal and make us a great year-round destination, and this is a really big missed opportunity.
“I really hope the folk who have planning permission either can get their scheme under way and get their finance lined up, or if they can’t, they should make way for someone who can.”
A 210-metre indoor ski slope, the world’s largest indoor climbing wall, a sky-diving simulator and an indoor surfing centre were just some of the attractions outlined when plans were being discussed by the council in 2011.
However difficulties in gaining sufficient funding for the project has seen it stutter and fail to open in early 2013 as was once planned.
Deals were struck with Subway, Butcombe Brewery plus other food outlets and retailers in November 2011 but OpalTec has yet to attract the necessary funding to begin work.