No car park plan for Italian Gardens

Weston High Street and the Italian Gardens.

Weston High Street and the Italian Gardens. - Credit: Archant

RUMOURS that Weston-super-Mare’s Italian Gardens will be used to store for construction equipment during the Winter Gardens redevelopment – or even become a car park in the longer term – have been quashed.

Whispers about the future of the town centre gardens have been circulating in recent weeks, after Weston College won planning permission to turn the iconic seafront venue into a Law and Professional Services Centre.

While college leaders are still awaiting funding confirmation from the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership, they remain hopeful students will be learning within its walls by September.

But, since the venue’s transfer from council ownership to the college, there has been widespread public concern about changes to the building – and what will happen to the Italian Gardens.

More recently the Mercury has been told of supposed plans to use the Town Square and Italian Gardens to house diggers and skips during the construction period with long-term plans to turn them into a car park.

The Mercury can now confirm there are no plans to do so, with rumours refuted by both North Somerset Council – which owns the land – and the college. The council does, however, want the area to become a ‘more attractive and usable’ space in the future.

A college spokesman said: “Our planning permission covers the original footprint of the Winter Gardens, and nothing else.

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“In terms of construction traffic, we haven’t concreted our plans yet because we are still waiting on the funding confirmation, but the actual works involved will not be a large building project.

“The main building is in the corner, by the Royal Hotel, which will become the main entrance.

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“We are anticipating any construction traffic will be in the small parking area already at the Winter Gardens.”

A council spokesman said the lease agreeement means the college can use the forecourt at the front of the Winter Gardens and the circular car park outside the main entrance, but not the Town Square or Italian Gardens.

They said: “We do not envisage any changes to the Town Square or the Italian Gardens as part of the college’s remodelling of the Winter Gardens.

“We hope the area can be upgraded to make it a more attractive and usable space – although there are no plans to turn it into a car park – and are currently considering where funding for this could come from.”

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