Trop could be back in action in two years
PUBLISHED: 14:53 23 January 2012 | UPDATED: 15:53 23 January 2012
A GROUP of businessmen fighting to save Weston's Tropicana say they could have the former pool back in operation within two years.
After executive members of North Somerset Council decided to demolish the iconic site in November a consortium, including Puxton Park owner Derek Mead, Grand Pier co-owner Kerry Michael and businessman Giulio Ellis came forward with a plan to restore the Tropicana.
The Trop (WSM) Ltd also says it can have the former attraction roofed over and turned into an all-weather facility in five years.
Mr Mead said: “We are convinced that most local people would prefer to see the Tropicana given a new lease of life rather than being bulldozed, particularly if the cost to the taxpayer of either option is identical.
“We are offering Weston and the council a unique opportunity to restore one of the few attractions the town has retained and although we are still working on a business plan it is becoming clear that it can be placed on a sound financial footing.”
The group, which has the backing of the Mead Group – a company behind some of the South West’s largest developments - is now asking the council to hand over the freehold of the Tropicana.
The determined group has also asked for an adjacent area of land for a car park and the £700,000 the council earmarked for the site’s demolition.
In return for the council’s cooperation it will guarantee re-opening within two years and a transformation into an all-year-round attraction by 2017 by forming a charitable trust, which will apply for grants to cover redevelopment costs.
Mr Mead said a survey into the building’s condition, carried out in 2005, had not revealed any major defects.
He said: “We don’t anticipate that there has been any significant deterioration since then.
“The important thing is for us to take possession of the Tropicana and start restoring it before any deep-seated structural problems do develop.”
The consortium is now planning to test public opinion by gathering a huge petition next month.
In the meantime the project will be underwritten by the Mead Group, subject to council approval being given for its application to build 1,600 homes and create a business park at Locking Parklands. The development there will also feature a sport of excellence facility and a new district centre.