WESTON could become a Mecca for the UK’s winter sports enthusiasts, with talks under way to create a huge new £20million complex in the town.
Ice hockey, skating, skiing facilities and a host of associated sports science and training facilities would all be included in the development.
A 10,000-seater ice hockey arena centrepiece would provide a home for a professional sports team, and would be surrounded by a public ice rink, ice-climbing wall, ski treadmills, two pools, a laser biathlon range and speed skating track.
A not-for-profit organisation called Winter Sports World (WSW) has already held talks with North Somerset Council about coming to the area, as well as scouting potential locations around Weston.
A spokesman said: “Our mission is to provide excellence in winter sports facilities and training for British athletes to discover, develop and excel through a sustainable business model.
“WSW will attract some of the best British athletes in winter sports as well as international teams from all over the world.
“In the first five years of the complex opening we are planning to host five international competitions bringing some of the world’s best winter sports athletes to Weston-super-Mare.
“A men’s professional ice hockey team will also be set up in Weston to take on the best teams in the UK and Europe.
“All our facilities would be open to the public and would of course be another big attraction bringing visitors for the area.”
Such a development would be a big plus for Weston, particularly with the Leisuredome ski project mooted for Locking Parklands still shrouded in uncertainty.
A council spokesman said the authority was unaware of any fresh problems with the Leisuredome project, but officers are working to bring WSW to Weston, despite interest from other local authorities in Southampton and Portsmouth.
The spokesman said: “The position with the Leisuredome project remains the same. The company are still working on attracting financial support for the development.
“With regards to Winter Sports World, council officers have met the people keen to develop the proposal and will continue to provide them with any information they need to help them develop their ideas further.”
That kind of positive reception could prove key to seeing the complex built in Weston.
The WSW spokesman added: “The main criteria that will shape our final decision is the support for the project in the local area; without the support of the local community the project will not work.
“We have had great support from the council and this relationship will also be a factor in our final decision.
“Demand locally will help keep the facility open and help us increase the facilities we can bring to the local area.