Major work on the Tropicana in Weston-super-Mare set to start in summer 2024
and live on Freeview channel 276
Major work on the Tropicana in Weston-super-Mare is set to start at the end of summer 2024 as North Somerset Council seeks a commercial operator to run it as a venue.
The council won £20m from the government’s Levelling Up Fund in January which, together with £3m of match funding from the council, is funding several projects in Weston-super-Mare — including a £5-7m refurb of the Tropicana site so it can be used as a “multi-use flexible entertainment space.”
The work will see the capacity of the venue increased and it made suitable for “a flexible range of activities.” Works will also include repairs to roofing, heating, lighting, ventilation, walls, floors, drainage, and the toilets.
The former swimming pool on the beach is owned and currently run directly by the council, hosting a number of iconic events such as Banksy’s Dismaland in 2015 and SEE Monster last year. It is currently hosting Icescape, the country’s largest outdoor ice rink.
But, as a council report warns, the venue is “underused and fails to generate adequate income to fully cover costs.” Now North Somerset Council is looking for a commercial operator to take on the running of the Tropicana for a 25-year lease once the refurbishment has been completed.
Speaking at a meeting of the council’s place, economy and planning scrutiny panel on Wednesday November 22, the council’s assistant director for placemaking and growth, Jenny Ford, said there had been a wide range of commercial operators interested in taking the Tropicana on. She told councillors: “We have had everything from extreme sport facilities to higher culture.”
But she insisted it would not be a “free for all” that would allow the venue to become something like a nightclub. She said: “We won’t be opening the doors to any sort of operator. There will be a procurement process.”
Weston-super-Mare Uphill councillor Helen Thorton questioned whether plans for a swimming pool were being considered. She said: “If you ask most people in Weston, that’s still what they want.”
But Weston-super-Mare Hillside councillor John Crockford-Hawley insisted it was not happening. Ms Ford added that the funding would not stretch to converting the Tropicana back to a swimming pool.
Construction is expected to start at the end of summer in 2024, but the scheme will need planning permission first. The money from the Levelling Up Fund has to be spent by March 2025, but Ms Ford said the council were applying for an extension.
A report setting out the planned procurement process for an operator will be brought before North Somerset Council in early 2024.