Published: July 4, 2011
Major new plans for seafront leisure complex in Burnham unveiled

Proposals for a major new leisure complex on Burnham-On-Sea seafront were unveiled by an entrepreneur on Monday (July 4th) to mixed reactions from town councillors.

Paul Chatwin - who last year proposed a mini golf course be built on The Esplanade - announced brand new plans for an entertainment and leisure complex called Burnham Point during Monday's town council meeting.

The development, on the South Esplanade in front of Burnham Holiday Village, would consist of an 18 hole mini-golf course, an area for children's fairground rides, plus 20 seaside chalets.

The chalets would be let to the public for day use and be used on several weekends a year for community events such as arts and crafts fairs, workshops and tourist events.

Under the proposals, the 20 chalets would be funded by Sedgemoor District Council at a cost of around £60,000 with Mr Chatwin's
company managing them.

"They should pay for themselves in four years and provide a profit to SDC after that, but I am providing SDC with a no-risk guarantee - if they decide the chalets aren't giving them sufficient income then I will buy them for what it cost to build them," Mr Chatwin told Monday's meeting.

Teresa Harvey from Sedgemoor District Council, who was present at Monday's meeting, confirmed the council is considering the plans.

"We have been hit by a 38 per cent cut in funding over two years, so this is a difficult time for us to make a decision on a scheme this, but we will be considering it carefully," she said. "We will have to go through an open, public tender process if we were to go ahead."

She added that the proposals are due to go before Sedgemoor's Capital Planning Group on July 14th to be considered.

Town councillors gave varied reactions to the scheme during Monday's meeting.

Cllr Helen Groves said: "Personally, I think the scheme sounds fantastic - our town needs proposals like this to grow and move forward."

Cllr Neville Jones said he was concerned whether council-owned shelters would be removed or taken over, but Mr Chatwin said there were no plans to change the shelters, adding that a dedicated new building with toilet facilities is planned.

Cllr Louise Parkin raised concerns about the lack of public toilet facilities along the seafront, adding: "I would be concerned if Sedgemoor were to spend £60,000 on a scheme like this when toilet facilities are so desperately needed."

And Cllr Mike Mansfield told the meeting he is against the scheme. "I would like to see this quiet area of the seafront remain as it is," he said.

But Cllr Tom Nicholls gave his backing to the scheme, saying: "This development would go some way to providing new facilities for visitors to Burnham, particularly young families. I think it's a good idea."

And Cllr Chris Williams said: "This would be an excellent economic opportunity for the town but it all depends on what funding Sedgemoor can give."

Cllr Paul Young said he also supports the proposals, adding: "This is a very good idea for that area of the seafront."

Cllr Kate Lawson added: "I'd like to see more facilities like Weston seafront's water park added. There's a real need for a splash park here."

There was support for the plans from Cllr Peter Burridge-Clayton, who said: "We need more facilities like this in Burnham. I supported the mini golf plans last year and I support this as well. I am just slightly uneasy, though, about the changing use of the huts and I wonder what would happen to them if the scheme were to fail."

Cllr Martin Cox raised concerns about the location of the huts given that they would be "big constructions," however Mr Chatwin said the structures would be sited on the lawns or Esplanade, adding that "there have been various discussions on this."

A representative from Burnham Holiday Village also spoke during the meeting, giving a cool reception to the plans.

"People come to our park to enjoy a relaxing holiday with walks along the seafront. We would be a little nervous about seeing a more lively environment introduced here but it is exciting to see innovation. The scheme is probably not something Bourne Leisure would support, though," he said.

Graham Wills, Chairman of Burnham Sailing Club, also aired his concerns, saying: "We have an ongoing problem at the club with litter, speeding and windows being smashed. Anything that would exacerbate the problems would not be welcome," but he added: "A development which is sympathetic to our Victorian town image would be supported." understands Mr Chatwin has been in discussions with SDC about the scheme for seven months and a website inviting the public's feedback on the scheme has been launched here.

Mr Chatwin told "There are still a number of hurdles to jump, but the scheme could give Burnham a serious boost if it is approved."

Pictured: (Top) The South Esplanade where the development is planned; the proposed beach huts and fair rides; and (above) Paul Chatwin

A map showing the location of the development (click for high-res version)

Town councillors debating the scheme on Monday evening


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