Planners are being urged to prevent a burnt-out Weston-super-Mare hotel being replaced by a massive tower block that would “ruin the seafront”.
More than 1,000 people have signed a petition calling on North Somerset Council to limit the height of any redevelopment of the three-storey Royal Pier hotel site.
Permission was granted in 2011 for 63 flats, shops, a restaurant and a bar in a building standing up to seven storeys high, but has since expired.
Now owner CNM Estates has drawn up new plans to transform the site – an eight-storey apartment building with 95 homes and serviced flats, plus a restaurant, bar, concierge service, leisure facilities, retail units and a series of outdoor terraces.
Presenting the Birnbeck Conservation Group’s petition at the full council meeting on November 9, Councillor Mark Canniford said: “We have an opportunity to put that decision right… and allow the appropriate level of development without destroying the conservation area behind it.
“This area is an essential part of the Greater Weston place-making strategy and we must take great care in how we develop this area.
“This [petition] indicates the shock and concern at the current proposals.”
The former Royal Pier Hotel was an extended Victorian building that was substantially damaged by major fires in June 2009 and October 2010. The remains were demolished in October 2010.
The site is allocated for residential use.
Birnbeck Conservation Group said the CNM Estate’s plans for an “eight-storey wall of windows” risked seeing “one of Weston’s primary beauty spots and attractions damaged and disfigured without any just or sufficient cause”.
One supporter said the developer’s plans were not regeneration but “exploitation and frankly an insult to Weston and the Birnbeck conservation area”.
Another said the new block would be “aesthetic vandalism”, while a third said a low-rise development would regenerate the area while preserving its heritage.
CNM Estates is yet to submit its formal planning application.
The firm also owns Birnbeck Pier but is set to sell it to the council after it threatened to pursue a compulsory purchase order.
Credit: Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporter