by mikebell on 17 July, 2015
The proposals for the expansion of the SeaQuarium on the seafront were reported in last week’s Mercury. In a nutshell, they include the construction of a new two-storey 59m wide building on the beach – for context, that is about half the width of the Tropicana facing the promenade. They also include proposals to construct a 91m high observation tower – that’s something more than four times higher than the Premier Inn hotel.
I believe firmly that Weston should be pro-business and pro-new ideas. The one sure-fire way to fall into decline is to be against everything new. However, not all change is positive and I do think we have to be very careful not to ruin Weston’s greatest natural asset – a relatively unspoilt beach and seafront.
So in that context, I am concerned about the proposals to expand the SeaQuarium and particularly the idea that further building on the beach should be permitted. Many would argue that the SeaQuarium was built in the wrong site in the first place and has never been big enough to do itself justice as a year-round attraction. I have sympathy with that view.
So what is the solution? Do we want new attractions and a pro-investment attitude? I say very firmly, yes. However, that cannot be at any price or in any location. We therefore need to work with the owners to look at other options and try to get the best of both worlds. Could not a new SeaQuarium (or dinosaur attraction, if that is what they want to deliver) be provided at the Tropicana, on Knightstone Island or as part of the long-awaited Dolphin Square site, all established locations right in the seafront/town centre area?
We need to be positive about opportunities for regeneration and redevelopment in Weston, but we also need to make sure that we deliver projects that are sustainable and appropriate.
COUNCILLOR MIKE BELL
Weston Central Ward