Step forward for Weston town centre regeneration

Another big step towards the regeneration of Weston-super-Mare is set to be taken by North Somerset Council next week as part of its bold vision for a vibrant and prosperous town centre.

At its meeting on Tuesday (20 October) the Executive will consider the next steps in redeveloping Weston police station and the adjoining former magistrates court building, having decided at its meeting in June to acquire the two sites for high quality residential development.

The police station, a purpose-built six-storey building, is due to be vacated as part of the police authority’s service restructure. The magistrates court building, a two-storey Grade II Listed property, has been closed since 2011.

The Executive will consider entering into a funding agreement with the Homes and Communities Agency to fund the purchase of the site by the council and developing a planning brief so that the necessary technical designs can get under way. Earlier this year the Government announced that Weston town centre was one of just 20 locations outside London to be designated as a Housing Zone, meaning it is a priority area for funding.

The council has been working with consultants LDA Design on a masterplan for the town, in which the area they have called ‘Walliscote Place’ is a key area of focus for economic growth and investment in high quality urban living. This includes the police station and magistrates court along with other adjacent sites (Rose Lawn/Central Chambers and Walliscote East Car Park).

The report going to next week’s Executive highlights Walliscote Place as a “key catalyst development in an area that has the potential to act as an arrival space and showcase of Weston’s heritage and the town centre regeneration initiative”.

Cllr David Pasley, executive member for HR, asset management, capital programme and transformation programme, said: “Buying the police station and former magistrates court means that the council will then have a unique opportunity to set a new quality and value benchmark and change perceptions of the town.

“This ambitious step forward, combined with the development of Weston College’s flagship Law and Professional Services Academy at the Winter Gardens, will attract talented young people to live in the town centre, helping to grow and diversify the town centre economy.”

Weston Town Centre Manager Steve Townsend said: “It’s great to see this major project getting under way at these key sites. Attracting more people to live here in high quality residential apartments will be a great boost for the prosperity and vitality of the town centre.”

Further background information on how the Walliscote Place site fits within LDA Design’s masterplanning work is included in the Executive report and shows a number of illustrations of how residential use of the site could look. The artist’s impressions don’t show an actual proposed building design as more work will be done in due course on this, with consultation as part of the planning application process. Further reports will be considered by the Executive as this project develops.

The purchase of the police station will be completed by no later than the end of March 2016. Initially the site will be leased back to the police, who anticipate being able to move out of the site in the latter part of 2016 when their new Blue Light facility is completed at Weston Gateway Business Park by Junction 21. The aim will be to have completed the detailed design work for the police station in advance so work can begin as soon as possible after the building becomes vacant.