New lifeline for Tropicana?
PUBLISHED: 12:27 18 July 2014 | UPDATED: 12:27 18 July 2014
FRESH hope has been raised that Weston's crumbling Tropicana can be revived for public use, after a new council report recommended the former pool be cleared out and used for seafront events.
A series of big-money regeneration plans have fallen by the wayside during the 14 years the attraction has lain derelict, while North Somerset Council ruled out using public money to reopen the seafront attraction.
Businessman Derek Mead is the latest to have pushed for the chance to redevelop the site, but the council this week said it has seen ‘no evidence’ of progress with funding bids by his Trop Trust group - and will instead explore its own alternative ways to revive the site.
The recommendation, put forward by executive member for finance Tony Lake, suggests clearing out the Tropicana and carrying out ‘light refurbishment’ to make it more attractive and combat its ‘negative’ impact on the rest of the seafront.
Although councillors will initially be discussing ways to utilise the site on an ‘interim’ basis, Cllr Lake said a council working party will consider whether new use could become permanent.
Any development is unlikely to include a pool but other options remain open, meaning ideas previously mooted - such as an open air concert venue, children’s playground or a skate or sports area - could come under consideration.
The report says: “It is recommended the council brings forward development to accommodate a seafront multi-use event space on site as an interim measure, as this would at least in the short term deal with the negative and detracting affect the Tropicana site has on the seafront environs.”
No decision has been taken over the potential budget for the proposed plan, or whether external partners will be sought to help with financing the work or running the site.
Those points will all be discussed by the council’s Tropicana working party today (Thursday) before being presented to the executive members ‘once the investigations are completed and next steps have been firmed up’.
The idea of reopening the site represents a radical change of heart by an authority which had previously voted to bulldoze the site.
Demolition plans were blocked by the Government, though, and the Trop Trust has since asked the council to hand over the land so it can press ahead with its plans for an all-weather facility, complete with an Olympic-size swimming pool, shops and a restaurant.
Council leaders have publicly stated they would back Trop Trust - an organisation North Somerset describes as a ‘charitable company limited by guarantee’ - if it can produce ‘conclusive evidence’ of ‘a fully funded viable proposal’.
Members of the trust have repeatedly told the Mercury they are waiting on a grant application response from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund.
But in the authority’s updated report – which will be taken to full council next week – it states council officers supplied the team with a potential list of funding sources and to date ‘no evidence has been presented to suggest progress being made with applications to funding bodies’.