Trop Trust dealt Government setback
PUBLISHED: 13:30 26 August 2014
A REQUEST to release Weston's Tropicana from North Somerset Council's ownership has been blocked.
Members of the Trop Trust – which includes businessman Derek Mead, who has led the fight to rebuild the former pool, MP John Penrose, Terry Gilbert and Gail Parsons – asked the Secretary of State for Local Government and Communities Eric Pickles to allow the Tropicana to be redeveloped, but this bid was rejected due to their own planning application.
Puxton Park owner Mr Mead said this idea came from a Mercury article, which flagged up the right to contest bid under the Localism Act.
It allows businesses, community groups or individual members of the public to ask ministers for unused or surplus land owned by public bodies to be put to better use.
The group highlighted the seafront site as a spot which could benefit from the right, as it has lain derelict for the past 14 years.
The Trop Trust hopes to revamp the seafront site to create an all-weather facility, complete with an Olympic-size swimming pool, shops and a restaurant, despite North Somerset Council’s efforts to demolish it.
But last week the trust – which now has official charitable status by the charity commission - was told the Tropicana may be in use in the future.
A letter from the Government department said: “Before the Secretary of State can direct the disposal of land, he must be satisfied that it is not being used, or is not being used sufficiently for the performance of the owner’s functions. On the evidence before him in this case, he is satisfied that the recent planning permission granted suggests there is reasonable prospect of the site being brought into viable use.”
The council has since raised an idea to clear out the Tropicana and use it for seafront events – something which will be put before the authority’s executive members.
Trustees of the campaigning group now hope to meet with council officers to consider the latest development and invite them to review the request for a working partnership.
Trustee Gail Parsons, who is also president of Weston Chamber of Commerce, said: “We cannot be successful in obtaining funding from any source until North Somerset Council is satisfied we are serious about bringing the Tropicana back to life and it is happy to work with us.
“The Trop Trust has to build trust that we will persevere and get that pool built.
“We were hoping the right to contest would provide another vehicle to assist us, but so far that didn’t work out as our own planning permission granted by North Somerset Council blocked it.
“We are going back to the Secretary of State to explain.”