Trop campaigners call on Government to get keys to the site

PUBLISHED: 10:00 27 May 2014

Derek Mead and campaigners.

Derek Mead and campaigners.

Archant

CRUSADERS behind the Tropicana's redevelopment have turned to a new tactic in an effort to get the pool rebuilt, applying to the Government to gain control of the site once and for all.

Trop Trust members hit the seafront at the weekend, rallying crowds for their Big Splash campaign and collecting signatures in support of creating an Olympic-sized swimming pool with shops and a restaurant, to replace the derelict building – a plan formed by Trop (WSM) Ltd.

And now a ‘right to contest’ application, under the Localism Act, has been submitted to ministers in an attempt to take the keys from owner North Somerset Council.

The authority tentatively agreed to hand over the seafront site last year, if a viable plan could be agreed.

And while the trust, which has formed an ‘enabling team’ to push the plan forward, has applied for grant funding, it says it needs a letter of intent from executives to help secure the cash.

The trust is also still waiting to hear back from the Regional Growth Fund, with a £1million grant application outstanding.

Trop Trust figurehead Derek Mead said: “We are still fighting with the campaign. The trouble is we can’t get stuck in until we get a letter of intent and we still have not had that from the council.

“What we decided to do, following the article in the Mercury, is use the right to contest.”

The Mercury previously reported how Weston town councillors have called for the right, which allows businesses or community groups to ask ministers for unused land owned by public bodies to be put to better use, to be utilised to help revitalise a site which has lain derelict for 14 years.

A letter to the council from the trust’s legal advisor Amanda Sutherland says: “We have seen no movement on the matter and put you on notice that we intend to make the relevant application to force sale.

“From the legal history and with the support of our local MP and town council, we are confident of a successful outcome.”

North Somerset reiterated its previous stance, as agreed by the full council last November, to make the Tropicana available if conditions are met.

A spokesman said: “The council confirms it is willing, notwithstanding the legal and financial risks, to indicate it would in 
principle support, in due course, a leasehold disposal to Trop (WSM) Ltd in the event that company is able to present to the council conclusive evidence, in the form of completed funding agreements, that it has a fully funded viable proposal to deliver the scheme comprised in the current planning permission.”

Meanwhile, town and district councillor Mike Bell said the building could still be put to effective use this summer.

He said: “The sooner North Somerset Council sells or leases the Tropicana to the Trop Trust, the better. But in the meantime, I’d like to see the council let the Trop Trust team have the site for the summer.

“A short-term use could bring some of the front outlets in Tropicana back into use and making a positive contribution to the seafront tourism offer. That would be better than leaving the site boarded up and neglected for yet another season.”

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