Secretary of State to launch fresh consultation on Tropicana demolition
SECRETARY of State Eric Pickles is to launch a fresh three week consultation ahead of making a decision on whether plans to demolish Weston-super-Mare's dilapidated Tropicana can go ahead.
Mr Pickles is currently reviewing his decision to allow North Somerset Council conservation area consent to demolish the landmark after campaign group Trop (WSM) Ltd appealed against the decision, claiming it was flawed.
Now the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government will consult with all those who made comments on the application before making his final ruling on the matter.
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The consultation will finish on January 24.
If he makes a U-turn and refuses consent it will mean the council will be unable to demolish the Tropicana.
But if he stands by his original decision to agree to conservation area consent, the authority could start work to demolish the landmark before the start of the resort's main tourist season.
A council spokesman said: "We will review the situation once we are made aware of the Secretary of State's decision."
Trop (WSM) Ltd has already submitted an outline planning application to redevelop the seafront site into an all year round attraction.
Plans - due to be considered by councillors in January - include refurbishing the building and erecting a new two storey building with a mezzanine floor.
Included in the plans are a 50-metre indoor competition pool, outdoor pool and separate activity area with changing facilities and a restaurant.
There are also plans for shops to be included along with a spa and a temporary music stage.
The consortium has also asked for the council to transfer the ownership of the Tropicana to them for £1 and has pledged to carry out the demolition of the building itself if the scheme is not completed within a three year timescale.
Campaigners say the redevelopment of the Tropicana would provide new jobs for local people and offer additional health and fitness facilities to residents and visitors.
They also say a redeveloped Tropicana would bring extra visitors into the town and help boost the local economy.
A spokesman for Trop (WSM) Ltd said: "The group would hope the Secretary of State sees its proposal as a sensible alternative to demolition and they would be able to progress the application forward to save the heritage building.
"If the Secretary of State decides to grant the demolition application the group will take legal advice on how to progress the continued prevention of the demolition proposal."
North Somerset Council is also consulting on how it intends to demolish the site - at an estimated cost of £700,000 - if permission is granted.
However a decision on the application has been deferred until a ruling is made by the Secretary of State.
The Tropicana has lay vacant for 12 years and more recently has been used as a storage depot by contractors Birse during a £29 million project to enhance the resort's sea defences.
There have been several attempts to bring the Tropicana back to life over the last several years - each of which has failed.