After all that effort, Weston-super-Mare’s 1937 Tropicana lido is to be demolished
Over the last decade or so a raft of different architects have come up with proposals for the long-abandoned seafront site, some controversial, others conservational. An early attempt to redevelop the Art Deco landmark came from Scott Brownrigg + Turner in 2003. This was followed by an almost universally disliked scheme by Mountford Pigott, which took Poirot-esque, De la Warr pastiche to a new low (AJ 29.02.08).
Others came and went: a competition-winning scheme by FaulknerBrowns, low-key retrofit proposals by Ferguson Mann Architects with S&P (see attached pdf), and another conservation-led scheme by Bristol-based Arturus (all backed by local businessman Richard Nightingale, who is reportedly £500,000 out of pocket).
Now North Somerset Council, which appears to have had enough of unrealised dreams but doesn’t have any of its own, is to flatten the complex at a cost of £700,000. As one architect pointed out, that money could easily have kick-started a small makeover, potentially emulating the success of the reborn Portishead lido up the road. Instead, the former seaside playground will become beach once more.
The AJ received this release from North Somerset Council yesterday (17 January)
No money, no credible track record, no proposals and no plans is the message received by North Somerset Council at its meeting with a consortium of local people campaigning to save the Tropicana in Weston-super-Mare.
Officers from the council met with a group of people calling themselves Tropicana Group Ltd on Friday to discuss their pleas to save the derelict structure from demolition. But it was not clear if the Group really is a limited company and whether it has any real intentions other than thwarting the demolition of the structure.
After three failed redevelopment schemes, North Somerset Council has agreed to demolish the 1930’s structure and return it to sand. The current building is not fit for redevelopment and by returning the site to sand, the council hopes to offer a blank canvas for any future development of the site.
But in a last minute bid to prevent this, Tropicana Group [a limited compnay] has apparently been established. The group is said to be made up of local business people including Derek Mead, Geraldine Callen, Jon Harrap and Terry Gilbert. The meeting was not attended by Pier owners Michelle or Kerry Michael who had previously been quoted as supporting the group.
Councillor Tony Lake, North Somerset Council’s executive member with responsibility for buildings and amenities, said Tropicana Group seemed to have shrunk in size as some of the members had withdrawn. In addition suggestions that Pier owner Kerry Michael was a member of the group appear to be incorrect.
He added: ‘We really need to clarify just who belongs to this group as it doesn’t appear to be a registered company. Even more concerning is the fact that it has no money and appears to have no plans or proposals other than to criticise the council. What local residents need is someone prepared to invest now in providing an amenity for local residents not just another talking shop. Despite the involvement of a major local builder, this doesn’t seem to be the group’s aim.”
“We are keen to hear any suggestions for the site but clearly these need to be well thought out and complemented by a robust business plan.’