Weymouth Pavilion work ‘will not be finished before Olympics’

Councillor Brendan Webster at Weymouth Pavilion

Councillor Brendan Webster at Weymouth Pavilion

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THERE is little or no chance of the Weymouth Pavilion re-development being completed in time for the Olympics, councillors warned today.

Developer Howard Holdings has gone quiet over the future of the £150 million scheme but its funding partner Europa Capital could still step in.

Weymouth and Portland Borough Council members Howard Legg and Brendan Webster said it was unlikely the site would be redeveloped as originally hoped for by 2012.

Coun Webster, briefholder for leisure, tourism and community facilities, said: “With the best will in the world, even if Howard Holdings come back on board or if Europa take over, the timescales are getting very short.”

Weymouth and Portland Borough Council has handed Howard Holdings an ultimatum after it failed to act on its planning application.

The developer has been told to proceed now or its agreement will be terminated.

Council special projects spokesman Coun Legg said the authority was developing contingency plans in case Howard Holdings could not proceed.

Members of the council’s management committee will hear more about the scheme tomorrow.

Now the council is drawing up contingency plans and considering its options – including Howard Holdings’s funding partner Europa stepping in to take over the project.

Council special projects spokesman Coun Howard Legg said it was unlikely the site would be redeveloped for 2012 even if one of the firms persevered with the project.

And he warned there would be no hope if both Howard Holdings and Europa jumped ship.

“Completing the work ready for the Olympics, even if Europa were to proceed, would be highly doubtful,” he said.

“But if Europa say no and back out there will be no chance.

“We’d have to go back to the drawing board and start the whole process again. It’s the last thing we want.”

Europa has until March to decide whether it will step in and proceed with the development.

Coun Legg said: “It’s up to Europa but they have put a lot of money in already.

“I don’t think they’d want to just walk away. But it depends whether they think they can salvage anything. They’re the experts.

“We need action soon because lots of things have already been done.

“Architects and designers have been brought in and studies have been carried out. All those things have a value, which is diminishing the longer this goes on. These studies don’t last forever.”

Coun Legg has said the borough council could use funds from its £500,000 reserve to keep Weymouth Pavilion up and running for the next few years if needed.

He said further contingency plans were being developed but no action on alternatives could be taken until Europa decides.

Members of the borough council’s management committee are meeting tomorrow for an update on the Weymouth Pavilion saga.

Coun Legg added: “What we don’t want is a building site in the middle of the Olympics in 2012.

“Hopefully, whatever happens, at least some part of the redevelopment can be completed.”

Coun Webster said the hitch had led to uncertainty for staff and over bookings.

But he said the hold-up may help spark more focus on arts, crafts, and community projects to maintain the town’s cultural life.

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