Tropicana being considered for pool again
PUBLISHED: 07:00 24 September 2019
The Tropicana is again being considered as a site for Weston's second swimming pool, but councillors warn it could cost as much as £30million.
North Somerset Council's deputy leader Mike Bell has revealed the former lido is one of the options being considered by the authority as it seeks to satisfy the town's shortage of leisure facilities.
A new swimming facility for Weston has long been on the council's agenda, with the previous administration - which was defeated in May's elections - announcing proposals for a second pool at Hutton Moor Leisure Centre in 2015.
But, despite assertions at the time, no firm plans were created and the council is no closer to splashing out on a new pool four years later, although the new administration has begun assessing its options.
Cllr Bell, speaking exclusively to the Mercury, said: "We have initiated a leisure strategy review, which is looking primarily at the provision of our leisure centres and facilities across North Somerset, because at the moment there really isn't a long-term plan.
"We have asked officers to specifically look at options for the second pool in Weston, which was announced by the previous administration but there was never a plan or money for.
"We have asked them to look at the options for delivering a second pool in Weston, including the Tropicana or another seafront site. That's not to say what will be decided, but we will look at that as an option.
"Realistically, the world has moved on a lot. The £10million it would have cost 10 or 15 years ago is £25-30million, and we're just not in that space."
The deputy leader admitted there are 'challenges' inhibiting the project, particularly funding.
He continued: "We also need to deliver a second leisure centre for Weston over the next few years.
"We need to assess if the Tropicana is appropriate for a pool and can it fall within the leisure mix, bearing in mind, whatever leisure centre we're talking about, we've got no money."
Cllr Bell also revealed plans to transform the Tropicana into a 9,000-capacity arena - which were part of this year's failed £1million funding bid to the Government's Coastal Communities Fund (CCF) - are still alive.
He added: "The other option for the Tropicana is to look at whether the unsuccessful CCF bid could be taken forward in some other way either through direct investment by the council or through another bid.
"There wasn't a very good business plan which underpinned the CCF bid, which perhaps suggests why it wasn't successful - but in principle there does seem to be some good evidence that if we were to increase the capacity of that venue, it could be more successful and attractive.
"I think there is a viable, sustainable future for the Tropicana. In terms of the arena and arts and culture space, there does seem to be demand for that."
The deputy leader added the Trop is part of a developing cultural strategy, with hopes of 'putting Weston on the map' for arts and culture.