Heritage expert applauds eleventh hour reprieve for Tropicana

James Edwards

A High Court injunction blocking the demolition of Weston’s Tropicana has been welcomed by Colliers International heritage expert James Edwards.

The Tropicana in Weston-super-Mare is under threat from North Somerset Council who want to demolish what has become a seafront eyesore – built in 1937 but abandoned and left derelict since 2000.

Campaigners Trop (WSM) Ltd won an eleventh hour reprieve after mounting a High Court challenge to the council’s decision.

The matter will now go to appeal on November 29.

Led by local businessman Derek Mead, Trop (WSM) Ltd has submitted an alternative outline planning application to redevelop the seafront site.

The plan envisages a 50-metre indoor competition pool, outdoor pool and separate activity area with changing facilities and a restaurant.

James Edwards said he was delighted at the decision to take another look at the future of the site.

He comments: “The consortium trying to save the Tropicana has asked the council to transfer ownership for £1 and have even pledged to demolish the building themselves if they cannot get their alternative scheme off the ground within three years.

“I believe it is well worth giving the developers the chance to salvage something from this iconicl structure which, after all, has already been derelict more than a decade.”

The planning and heritage commentator, who has campaigned to raise the profile of historic buildings and structures across the West, said it was remarkable the world-famous art deco structure has never been listed and is not protected by historic building champions such as English Heritage.

He said: “It has been an icon of the traditional British seaside, an icon that a great many people have fond memories of visiting.

“Despite its present derelict condition this is a building close to many people’s hearts and it is astonishing things have been allowed to come this far without a viable new scheme being adopted.

“I am delighted the campaigners have persuaded the High Court to delay the demolition plans but I do fear this remarkable and unique structure may be lost forever.”

The appeal will now be heard on November 29. The move means no work on demolishing the Tropicana can take place until a ruling is made at the hearing.

James Edwards’ comments follow a recent announcement from English Heritage who are planning to expand their Heritage at Risk register to include Grade II listed buildings in addition to the more significant Grade I and Grade II* buildings.

He said: “I fully support the English Heritage initiative as it is these lower listed buildings that often get neglected. Sadly the Tropicana was never listed to start with.”

James said that an ‘at risk register’ should be drawn up at a national level for grade II structures to raise awareness particularly from funders, of those buildings most in need.

He concludes: “Extending the scope of focus for buildings at risk to Grade II is I believe a great move which raises awareness of those buildings which make up the bulk of our listed buildings in this country yet which have historically fallen below the radar.

“It follows that those buildings which are not yet listed, or maybe of local interest will receive greater interest on the back of this. It is recognised that those buildings not accorded the importance of grade I and II* have a significance and value which needs to be protected.

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