Our campaign started in the Autumn of 2011 so we
have been campaigning to save the Tropicana for over 4 years. Below you’ll
find the most recent month giving a summary of what’s happened, then the
history of what has happened from the very start of the campaign. You can also
keep up-to-date by visiting our News page.
It might just be the most exciting thing to ever happen to our humble seaside town Weston super Mare! The world-famous Banksy has arrived. Rumours have been circulating for days that what at first glance appeared to be the set of a new Hollywood film at the former Tropicana lido is actually a now not-so-effective cover for what is the elusive artist's latest show.
It looks like Weston super Mare is the place to be this weekend.
The Trop Trust announced their upcoming visit to Lido Pontypridd, the £6.3 Million National Lido of Wales which is due to open this summer following a major restoration project. Spearheaded by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council with financial support from the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government, Heritage Lottery Fund and Cadw the project has totally transformed the landmark Grade II listed lido.
The project will involve:
- Restoring the historic Grade II listed lido to a high standrad.
- Restoring the lido's historic features, such as the original turnstiles, and wooden cubicles.
- Reopen the lido as a heated facility, with three pools for different uses: a main pool, an activities pool, and a semi circular splash pool for small children.
- Provide free entry for children aged 12 or under with an accompanying adult.
- Contruct a high quality cafe to serve both the lido and wider park.
- Construct a visitor interpretation space, viewing gallery, and classroom/meeting facility, which can act as a hub for community learning and volunteering opportunities.
- Construct a new changing block in line with modern expectations.
- Create a state-of-the-art dry facility open year round.
Trop Trust spokesperson and North Somerset District Councillor Derek Mead commented "We have been battling to restore the Tropicana as a swimming pool for nearly years. If Pontypridd can restore their iconic open air lido there is no reason why Weston should not be able to do the same. We are looking forward to our upcoming visit to the Ponypridd Lido to see and learn how they succeeded with this major restoration project"
Visit the Pontyrpridd Lido Regeneration website for more information about their restoration project.
fighting to save the derelict Tropicana swimming pool in
Weston-super-Mare rallied an army of volunteers to raise awareness of their
plight. Trop Trust members joined forces with volunteers at the weekend as part of National Volunteers’ Week, to raise awareness of their plight to reopen the seaside pool. Volunteers’ Week is an annual celebration of the fantastic contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK - and ran from the 1-7 June, 2014. Together the campaigners handed out leaflets and asked people to support a petition to get North Somerset Council to hand over the Tropicana keys to The Trop Trust. The Trop Trust wants to create Olympic-sized swimming pool with shops and a restaurant and have applied for a £1million grant from The Regional Growth Fund. To push ahead with its plan the group need North Somerset Council to hand the building over and provide them with a letter of intent. They believe this should be done under changes to the localism act, which allow communities to submit the ‘Right To Contest’ applications to buy or request release of a site that is underused or empty. Trop Trust spokesman, Derek Mead, says once the letter of intent has been provided by the local authority and the keys handed over, they can push ahead with their plans.
changes under the Localism Act allowed communities to submit 'Right to Contest'
applications to buy or request release of a site that is underused or empty.
This should apply to the Tropicana building. We challenged North
Somerset Council on this issue.
of the campaign team working to save the Tropicana met up with The Secretary of
State , Eric Pickles, in the House of Commons ,London ,on Thursday 2nd April to
deliver personal 'thank you letters' from supporters in North Somerset for the
reinstatement of the pool following the decision to disallow the application by
North Somerset Council to demolish the site. The campaigners have now formed an enabling team, which includes John Penrose MP for Weston super Mare along with District and Town councillors and local business associations to move the project forward and to attract funding for the site. The meeting, arranged by Weston’s MP John Penrose, saw the presentation of a Weston super Mare ‘Carnival Memento’ to Eric Pickles. John said: “Most of us remember the Trop carnival float featuring Eric Pickles as a slightly unlikely Sea God. I was delighted to set up a meeting between the Trop backers and Eric, so they could present him with a memento to say ‘thank you’ for his decision. It turns out Eric saw the original report in the Mercury and was particularly proud of the picture because it shows him with an impressive six-pack!”
After a successful campaign lasting two years culminating with the
Secretary of State halting the demolition of the building, the campaign group
The Trop (WsM) Ltd was superseded by The Trop Trust. Trustees have been appointed taking on the task of working with a volunteer enabling team
(consisting of local and respected business people) to oversee fund raising and
grant applications to finance the project.
He may not have been everyone's idea of a Greek god, but Local Government and Communities Secretary Eric Pickles was transformed into an heroic figure of Neptune with rippling muscles and trusty trident for the Weston-super-Mare Carnival parade. The image is supporters of the town's famous Tropicana lido's way of saying "thank you" to the politician for "saving the Trop". The 1930s landmark, which has been closed for 12 years, was earmarked for demolition by North Somerset Council after a fruitless search for a way of transforming its fortunes. But campaign group Trop (WSM) Ltd fought the plan and appealed to Mr Pickles to halt it. In September he ruled that restoration would be a better option. Trop (WSM) Ltd has applied to reconstruct the pool as an Olympic-size pool and beachside entertainment facility. When the town's carnival hit the streets at 7.15pm its float carried the image of Mr Pickles as Neptune, protector of the seas and beaches, pointing towards the Tropicana. Supporters of the Tropicana, including businessman and farmer Derek Mead, dressed in togas as his "protectors". They wrote to Mr Pickles to tell them what they were planning. Mr Mead said yesterday: "Weston-super-Mare wants to keep the Tropicana, and there is no reason why it shouldn't be refurbished."
Every single councillor at North Somerset's full council meeting voted in favour of supporting the latest scheme to redevelop Weston's crumbling Tropicana. The decision came after a working party, formed to come up with a solution for the site, recommended that members should hand over the leasehold of the seafront site to Trop WSM Ltd. That means the former pool will change hands if the group – headed by Cllr Derek Mead – can present a fully-funded plan. With that formal backing in the bag, the team will now be able to move forward and apply for grant funding in the hope of reviving the derelict landmark. During Monday night’s meeting, executive member Tony Lake, who is also the chairman of the working party, said: “The working party has added (to the recommendation) that the Trop WSM Ltd should report on a regular basis to the council the progress they have made to acquire charitable status and grants. “This should be in the form of bi-monthly reports. I think it is right the council has some sort of timescale to show that progress is being made.” The Mercury reported last month how executive members agreed with the working party’s proposal and passed on the plan to be ratified by full council. The recommendation also stated the council will confirm the ‘in principle’ idea to hand over the site and is willing to issue a letter of confirmation to support the company in funding applications to the Heritage Lottery Fund, Sport England and the Regional Growth Fund – which will take bids of up to £300million. Cllr Donald Davies raised an objection to the fortnightly reports of progress and suggested that a ‘non-Weston person’ be asked to look at the Trop issue. He said: “We could still be getting these bi-monthly reports in 2015.” Cllr Lake said: “I tried to conduct these meetings in a business way without showing favour to a particular group. “Clearly if the reports that are coming back are not satisfactory the working group could be reconvened or the executive could say, we do not think progress is being made; let’s take another look at it.” The Tropicana has lain derelict for 13 years since the council closed its doors, and a succession of earlier regeneration plans have failed. Last week, Cllr Mead, Trop (WSM) Ltd and Cllr Mike Bell met with the Minister for Communities and Local Government to talk through funding opportunities. Cllr Bell said: “The meeting with the Minister, Stephen Williams, was very helpful in highlighting some of the challenges faced in turning around major projects like the Tropicana. “Stephen was able to point us to a couple of possible national funding streams, including the Coastal Communities Fund - which has supported pools in other areas. “I know that he is willing to assist Derek and the team in moving things forward where possible.”
An Agreement was reached to put a proposal to Full Council in November which could allow the Community Group, The Trop (WsM) Ltd and its team to test the viability of its scheme for the development of The Tropicana in Weston-super-Mare. Councillor Derek Mead, also a spokesperson for the Community Group said: “Members of the group have been campaigning since November 2011 to save this landmark building and deliver a new exciting beachside facility. It is heartening to note that North Somerset Council Leader Nigel Ashton expressly recognised and acknowledged that this is what the people want. In recognition of the opportunities within the Localism Act, the group have repeatedly asked for ‘partnership working’ with North Somerset Council to deliver this project and now look forward to the opportunity of establishing a close working relationship with The Tropicana Working Party and officers from North Somerset Council with the emphasis on 'enabling' the regeneration to move forward. The group thanked local residents, businesses, The Town Council and Community Groups within the Town who had been hugely supportive of their work. Without their continued help the group would not have been able to achieve the opportunity to bring the Tropicana back into use. The group encouraged everyone to continue to feel a part of this process.
North Somerset Council wanted to knock down Weston-super-Mare's Tropicana pool but the Secretary of State refused consent. The authority responded saying it welcomed the clarification and could now move forward with viable proposals. Weston MP John Penrose said he hoped the decision would clear the way for the redevelopment of the site. In the government's written response to the council, the local opposition to the demolition was highlighted as well as potential for the site's redevelopment. "The Secretary of State also considers that the refurbishment of the Tropicana would preserve and enhance the character and appearance of the Conservation Area," read the letter. It also noted that circumstances could change in the future leaving demolition as "the only real practical option available". The council said: "We can now move forward and try again to identify viable proposals from the private or community sector which properly meet EU regulations and the needs of visitors and residents. "Other options have already been under consideration during this hiatus and we will continue to progress these until we can make a decision." The Tropicana, on the seafront, has been closed for 12 years. Trop (WsM), a group of local businesses, has led the way with campaigning as well as getting plans approved to redevelop the site and reinstate a pool. Derek Mead, a local independent councillor and developer for the group, said although the government's decision was good news, money to develop the site was still needed. "We have wasted two years messing around over this, we have wasted a lot of money getting where we are and missed £20m-worth of coastal funding for which The Tropicana - in a deprived area - ticked all the boxes. "So it is good news but it is very frustrating."
The Secretary of State put his deliberation on hold until English Heritage reviewed our planning application. We understood from North Somerset Council that our planning application would not be heard until late February, the next planning meeting held on 21st February 2013 (South Area). We sent out a 'war cry' once again to our supporters to attend the meeting to listen to what the district councillors and leaders of the council had to say and what action they had taken following all the support letters sent to them.
The group meet with English Heritage and North Somerset Council on the 20th of December to take the proposal forward to committee with a recommendation for approval. It is hoped this will be listed for discussion and approval at the February 2013 committee date. English Heritage confirm that they view the group’s application as appropriate, subject to some design tweaks, which the group subsequently make and submit the revised plans to North Somerset accordingly. The Secretary of State announces on 30th December he is consulting with all parties that made representations previously received on the applications, in order to make the re-determination. The consultation will run for 21 days and and end on the 24 January 2013.
At the beginning of November The Trop (WsM) Ltd. learn that the Secretary of State is conceding the appeal lodged to the High Court. In an email from the government lawyers it is confirmed that the Secretary of State will not defend the appeal. The decision to withdraw from the court proceedings is conditional on agreeing to a Consent Order to be submitted to the Court. The lawyers for the Secretary of State say they recognise the decisions are flawed and will accept they should be quashed by the Court, as well as accepting that they should pay the group's legal fees incurred in bringing the Appeal. However, they do not admit that the decision failed to consider the condition of the building but rather they believe that the decision required further reasoning. The group considers the offer and decide to accept the Consent Order. The Secretary of State will now be required to reconsider and issue new decisions for the North Somerset council applications to demolish. The Trop (WsM) Ltd. awaits his new decision.
The Trop (WsM) Ltd. submit their proposal as an outline application to reconstruct the pool and provide a quality Olympic size swimming pool along with leisure and entertainment facilities for the town residents as well as visitors to the region. This allows the application to be seen by the Council, statutory consultees and the public to demonstrate there is a viable alternative to knocking the building down.
18 October - Councillors at North Somerset Council are given just 24hrs notice that an application to demolish the Tropicana will be decided at the South Area Planning committee on the evening of the 18th. Councillors are asked to vote on whether to allow the demolition to go ahead without 'prior approval' being required from them. The South Area Planning Committee unanimously vote to require prior approval of the demolition of the Tropicana. Councillors resolve to require prior approval of all of the details and specifically request that the public are consulted. The decision means that full details of the proposal for demolition and reinstatement of the sea wall and beach will be available for the public to comment on and a decision could be made at the next South Area Planning Committee on the 22nd of November.
On the 12th the Director of Development & Environment makes a decision to approve a budget of up to £75,000 to remove the waste from the Tropicana. The Trop (WsM) Ltd. submit a Section 63 Appeal to the High Court on the 14th of September in order to stop the demolition until the Appeal can be heard by the High Court as to why the group believe the Secretary of State made the wrong decision. On the 20th September a hearing at the High Court determines that the demolition should be halted until an Appeal into the Secretary of State’s decision can be heard by the High Court. This is set for the 29 November 2012. The Secretary of State and North Somerset Council have until the 15th of November to submit any evidence for the hearing. The Trop (WsM) Ltd. then have until the 22nd November to make any comments on the evidence submitted. The court will then have a week to read all of the information submitted and at the hearing on the 29th make the decision if North Somerset Council can demolish the building or not.
On the 6 August the Secretary of State decides to approve the application and allow the council to demolish the building. The Secretary of State also refuses the request for sale made in May. Also on the 6th of August the Environment Agency confirms there is contaminated waste stored unlawfully in the Tropicana building and requires the council to assess the waste and remove it by the 30th of September.
We continue to prepare our application and meet with English Heritage and members of the council to discuss our scheme. The courts dismiss our request for a Judicial Review on the basis that the council has subsequently put right their errors in their second application. The Enforcement team still have not replied to our enforcement complaint and we chase again. We refer the matter to the Environment Agency who confirms there is a breach of environmental legislation and planning controls and carry out an investigation.
The second application made by the council is considered by the South Area Planning Committee on 21st June and we again make a submission about our scheme and why the council are failing to consider it. Councillors at the meeting raise their continued concern that demolition is being rushed through by the Executive Members. At the meeting the Chair has to make the casting vote in order to agree to refer the recommendation to the Secretary of State as over half of the committee support our request to delay demolition and consider our scheme.
On the 1th May The Trop (WsM) Ltd. met with the Assistant Director of Development & Environment to bring forward further details of our scheme, at which we are not told of the 2nd application despite it having been summited a week previously. The council explain that they are not prepared to make any financial contribution to the site despite stating in the DTZ marketing exercise that the council could make available up to £700,000. The Trop (WsM) Ltd. continue with creating a suitable scheme and lobbying councillors as well as gaining public support from the residents of W-s-M and North Somerset. The Trop (WsM) Ltd. meet with Weston Town Council who express their support for a refurbishment scheme and the retention of the building. We submit an objection to the 2nd application to demolish and enquire why the council has failed to mention any of the details of our scheme within their application despite being fully aware of it and having asked DTZ to assess it. Without an alternative scheme English Heritage are unable to assess or consider our proposal and have to conclude on the evidence they are presented that there is no option but demolition. The Trop (WsM) Ltd. submit a request to the Secretary of State under the Local Government Planning and Land Act for the Secretary of State to order the sale of the building.
On the 12th The Trop (WsM) Ltd. chase up the Enforcement Team Leader on the enforcement complaint made in January as there has been no action taken. 20th of April - The Trop (WsM) Ltd. make a formal offer to purchase the building and work with the council to refurbish the building. The offer is refused. Due to the Judicial Review being served the council submit a second application for demolition, almost identical to the first but providing additional information in order to meet the concerns made in the Judicial Review.
On the 8th of March the council submit the further information requested by English Heritage for their review and comment, to be able to determine if the application should go to the Secretary of State. 14th March The Trop (WsM) Ltd. serve a Judicial Review claiming errors in the administrative process. The Trop (WsM) Ltd. carry out a public consultation exercise at the Winter Gardens on the 14th to provide information and gather support on our proposal. Over 500 people attend the evening and 100% support for the proposed scheme was expressed at the meeting. The group also lobby the local MP John Penrose, continue to develop our scheme, consult with English Heritage and again ask the council to meet but this is denied. At the end of March we submit a full 3rd party objection to the Secretary of State and make him aware of our viable alternative scheme. The Council refer our business case to DTZ for assessment and consideration. DTZ report at the end of March they still consider the scheme not viable. The Trop (WsM) Ltd. accountants refute the DTZ comments but are told by DTZ that they had been instructed by the council not to discuss the matter further or to cooperate.
The Trop (WsM) Ltd. instruct Counsel to advise if the application made by the council to demolish the building is lawful. 20th of February – NSC South Area Planning Committee meet to discuss the application to demolish. Councillors are advised by Executive Member Elfan Ap-Rees that they cannot revisit whether demolition is appropriate and can only give input to the conditions suggested by the Planning Officer in her report recommending approval of the application to the Secretary of State. At the time English Heritage raise a concern that the application did not supply sufficient evidence to support the application to demolish. This is not addressed by the planning committee on the 20th of February and the correspondence between the council and English Heritage was not placed on the website. At the meeting The Trop (WsM) Ltd. provide plans, sketch proposals and an outline of our proposal for bringing the Tropicana back into beneficial reuse as a community and tourist attraction. The committee are advised by their legal officer to disregard the scheme on the basis that the decision to demolish had already been made. However, The Trop (WsM) Ltd. are still encouraged to provide further information and business case to the Assistant Director of Development & Environment, although the Executive members still continue to refuse to meet with The Trop (WsM) Ltd.
On the 6th January the scrutiny panel met and decide not to refer the matter back to the Executive. No reason as to why this decision was made has been made public. On the 12th of January The Trop (WsM) Ltd. are finally offered a meeting with NSC officers to obtain further information about the site in order to update our business model and review viability for the development of the scheme as envisaged in the soft marketing exercise. At this meeting the NSC officers state the decision had been made and that the officers in the meeting are unable to overturn the decision although they were instructed to meet with us. 25th January – The Trop (WsM) Ltd. submit a formal objection to the application to demolish and also make several Freedom of Information requests for information to enable us to develop our business model further for consideration. The Trop also request the Planning Enforcement Team investigate the unlawful storage of waste from the sea wall works in the building and unlawful operation works (demolition of part of the side wall). On the 27th January the enforcement team register the request and inform us it could take up to 8 weeks for the investigation to take place.
On the 13th December the Executive take the decision to demolish the Tropicana following the recommendation from the Tropicana working group that there are no viable applicants to take forward. At the meeting the leader of the council stated that he had not been approached by the group, however the Trop (WsM) Ltd., as previously stated, had made a personal approach to him and several requests to Executive members asking for a meeting to discuss our proposals. On the 15th December the council make an application to demolish the Tropicana to the planning department. A group of councillors ask for the decision that the Tropicana be demolished to be called in to the Community and Corporate Organisation Policy and Scrutiny Panel requesting the Executive to defer the decision to demolish to allow more time for interested parties to bring forward alternative proposals.
The Trop (WsM) Ltd. send back their letter of interest with some initial information and request an extension of time to be able to provide full details of an appropriate scheme. NSC never responds to the request. On the 28th of November the North Somerset Council’s Tropicana working group meet to discuss the DTZ report on the marketing exercise and decide, without further discussions with any of the applicants, that no viable scheme has been demonstrated and that further discussions, as suggested by DTZ, are not worth proceeding. During November 2011 to January 2012 The Trop (WsM) Ltd. made eleven separate approaches to North Somerset Council’s Officers and Executive members asking for a meeting to discuss the proposals however our requests were ignored. The Spokesperson for the Group Derek Mead makes a personal approach to the leader (Nigel Ashton) by phone-call inviting him to either come to one of our meetings or to facilitate a meeting for the group, this was also ignored.
The council give just one month for potential developers to register their interest. DTZ send a brief letter asking for initial expressions of interest saying this would be followed up by further communication. The Trop (WsM) Ltd. receive their letter at the end of October and are required to send back their initial information within a 2 week deadline expressing their interest to refurbish the Tropicana.
Following the withdrawal of the Nightingale Group and Henry Boot in early 2011 North Somerset Council decide the only way forward is a ‘soft-marketing’ exercise to find out if the Tropicana could be refurbished. North Somerset Council (NSC) instructs consultants DTZ to carry out the exercise.