Residents object and demand end of 'secrecy' on land sale

PUBLISHED: 12:30 20 July 2012

Councillors Robert Payne, John Crockford-Hawley and Mark Canniford on the piece of land that the council is selling off.

Councillors Robert Payne, John Crockford-Hawley and Mark Canniford on the piece of land that the council is selling off.

Archant

A RESIDENTS' group says it is 'appalled' that North Somerset Council is looking to sell off part of Weston's seafront to a developer who has not made public his masterplan for the area.

Last week the Mercury reported the authority was looking to dispose of a parcel of land on Marine Parade, with developer Wahid Samady set to buy it as part of his plan for the nearby former Royal Pier Hotel site.

But the Friends of Prince Consort Garden group has forwarded a letter of objection signed by 220 residents to the authority, as well as calling upon Mr Samady to reveal his plans for the area.

The group was formed earlier this year to protect the seafront gardens, which sit next to the site, from potential development.

In the notice – published in the Mercury on July 5 – the council stated its intention to sell off the land, which measures a mere 0.01 hectares.

Mr Samady said the purchase of the land had always been part of his agreement with the authority for the former Royal Pier Hotel site.

Now the friends group has stated its opposition to the plans through the open letter calling for an end to the secrecy surrounding its future.

In it, the group writes: “We do not feel that it is appropriate for the council to be disposing of community assets to further the gains of developers who have shown no interest in the views of local residents.

“Sale of this parcel of land has not been discussed openly and it appears that all discussions have been held behind closed doors.”

The group also asks that Mr Samady be asked to withdraw his plans for the hotel site – approved last year – and put in a revised application, as well as asking whether a counter-bid for the contentious piece of land could be made.

The letter continues: “The existing planning permission and now proposed sale of public land are proof of his and the council’s lack of concern for the local area.

“The whole thing smells of deals being done before formal submission.”

One group member, Brian Wilkinson, said: “We are appalled by the fact that the council could sell this land without plans being public.

“The council seems intent on damaging the world-class views from the gardens.

“To even think of selling extra land - public land at that - for the Royal Pier Hotel development so that the current inappropriate height of the hotel could then obscure the view by a further 12 metres beggars belief. We are very sceptical about it all.”

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