Winter Gardens steering group meets for first time
The first meeting of the Winter Gardens community access board took place at the Weston College Conference Centre at the beginning of the month.
The group was formed in order to discuss the community use aspect of the Winter Gardens redevelopment and includes Dr Paul Phillips OBE, Principal and Chief Executive of Weston College, Mike Jackson, Chief Executive of North Somerset Council, Councillor Sarah Codling, and upstanding members of the community including representatives of Lloyds Bank and former mayor Ian Porter.
At the meeting, the committee was shown the proposed floorplan of the 1920s seafront portion of the building and the timeline for the refurbishment, which is scheduled for completion in April 2017.
It was explained that last year the Winter Gardens hosted only 80 events, 40 of which were related to the College. The committee laid down plans to grow the usage of the ballroom on a commercial basis and to create a dedicated team to market the facility and manage its events.
Dr Paul Phillips said: “We have been considering the community use aspect of the Winter Gardens since the council first approached us with the transfer proposal.
“Our plan has always been to preserve and enhance the seafront-facing side of the building, and to carry out significant repairs to this historic building.
“The ballroom will be more than protected, it will be enhanced, and will be better than ever."
Councillor Sarah Codling said: "We now have a real opportunity to provide so much more for people, and to ensure that the community is able to fully use and enjoy this treasured and iconic venue for many years to come."
Plans for the £11 million refurbishment of the Winter Gardens were approved in October, and will see the boxy 1980s extended portion of the building redeveloped into a Law and Professional Services Academy.
The original 1920s pavilion will be refurbished to a high standard and will be available for community use.