A group of Brean business owners have stepped up their calls for help from Somerset Council as EDF’s three-year closure of the Brean Pontins holiday park to accomodate hundreds of Hinkley Point workers is hitting their trade.

Several Brean tourism businesses say their trade has been hit by 50% compared to pre-pandemic trade at this time of the year due to fewer holidaymakers staying in the village due to the closure of Pontins.

As first reported by Burnham-On-Sea.com, EDF has taken over the site to house 900 Hinkley Point C workers and undertake a multi-million pound refit of the facilities. After three years, the park will revert back to tourism use – but some tourism businesses say they might not survive that long without proper financial help. The legality of the EDF arrangement is being challenged by businesses via Somerset Council with a decision due.

Pontins Brean Sands near Burnham-On-Sea

Burnham’s MP James Heappey visited Brean over the past week to discuss the concerns with the businesses. He said afterwards: “Brean Pontins has been taken over as accommodation for EDF – something that I opposed to the planning authority last year. This has displaced over 1,000 people a week from Brean spending their money at tourism bsuiness places such as Brean Theme Park.”

“Local park owners are furious about this – and Somerset Council still hasn’t taken a final decision about whether those workers can stay in Pontins. Today, the park owners invited members of the Somerset Council Executive to attend a meeting with them – including the leader and the portfolio holders for all of the main economic portfolios and their assistants. None of them attended – that’s not good enough for Brean for those businesses who bring millions of pounds into our visitor economy each month and who employ hundreds of local people. They deserve better than the executive members of our council hiding from meeting them and refusing to be clear on their policy position.”

Pontins Brean Sands near Burnham-On-Sea

Alan House, director at Brean’s Holiday Resort Unity, told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “We are after some engagement from Somerset Council about the occupancy and the ongoing planning decision regarding the Pontins site being used by EDF.”

“There is currently a seasonal holiday park which has been occupied by residential workers on all year-round basis which is having a massive detrimental impact on the local economy and the character of the village.”

He adds that the £225,000 of ‘compensation’ funding to promote tourism in Brean from EDF does not go nearly far enough to cover the financial losses for local businesses in the village.

Sue Lodge at Sunningcrest Holiday Park told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “Since trading started at the beginning of this season, many businesses who rely on the number of visitors who come from Pontins have reported significant drops in their takings. The long-term effects are numerous, potentially we could have no fun fair here or reduced numbers of shops because of this which would negatively effect Brean as a holiday resort.”

Lib Dem parliamentary candidate Tessa Munt, who is supporting businesses in trying to help them, has also visited the Brean businesses over the past week. She said: “This is a big issue. Businesses here deserve to be defended from silly decisions that might look in the short term to be a gain for somebody but when you can see such damage as a result of decisions being made, then surely as new information about the impact is received, the sensible thing to do is reassess it and consider something different. The reports of 35% and 50% falls in business are catastrophic.”

A spokesperson for business group Discover Brean added: “No planning permission has been submitted on behalf of EDF or Britannia for the change of use at the site and local tourism businesses are deeply concerned.”

“The area of Berrow and Brean is in a designated tourism boundary as defined by the Sedgemoor local plan and furthermore the Pontins site is outside of the local settlement boundary and therefore residential development is contrary to Sedgemoor local plan policies.”

Pontins Brean Sands near Burnham-On-Sea

“The Pontins site has clearly been used as a holiday park on a seasonal basis consistently for many years, the chalets by virtue of their design and characteristics, are not suitable for all year round use.”

“There will also be a change to the characteristics and amenity of the local area caused by an influx of people residing here which is heavily reliant on tourism. No environmental impact assessment has been completed for the site to assess the impacts on highways, environment, public health or nature.”

“Accommodating workers at Brean was not in any disclosed plans by EDF to Sedgemoor District Council and their accommodation strategy clearly defines the expected impact on Tourism across the district. The use of Pontins is in direct conflict with these published plans and therefore no consultation or further impact assessments have taken place, neither have any councillors or officers had the opportunity to discuss this with EDF.”

“There has been no advance consultation with tourism businesses who stand to be severely impacted plus the many millions of pounds that is spent in the local economy by visiting tourists who will now be displaced to other UK resorts.”

Brean Pontins

Andrew Cockcroft, Senior Stakeholder Relations Manager at Hinkley Point C, says: “We have been working with the local community and businesses throughout the development of our plans. Alongside the local authorities, we will be delivering a significant mitigation package for the area. This will provide support for national and regional marketing, together with targeted financial support for businesses.”

“We will be accommodating workers at the Brean Pontins site for the next three years and at the same time investing millions of pounds into its refurbishment – something that will benefit Brean for many years to come.”

A Somerset Council spokeswoman pointed businesses to a page on the council website here where Brean and Berrow Business Support Grant applications can be submitted for -projets up to £5,000.

The spokeswoman adds: “The Council is offering a small grant to local businesses within the Brean/Berrow Parish area who are impacted by the changes to Brean Pontins Holiday Park in Brean, which will accommodate around 900 workers on site over the next three years.”

“Brean/Berrow businesses that are affected by the accommodation of Hinkley Point C workers in the area are being offered the opportunity to apply for grants aimed to help them respond to any challenges caused.”

“Utilising S106 business support funding package, the Council has created a grant scheme to enable businesses who are impacted by Pontins being out of use for holidaymakers, to leverage other funding opportunities and to encourage adaptation by local businesses to the new market opportunities.”

The first Hinkley Point workers starting moving onto the Brean Pontins site before Christmas last year.


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