Civic Trust responds to Porthcawl regeneration proposals – Updated – BCBC responds

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

– Planning

by Contributed ItemContributed Item

On behalf of the Porthcawl Civic Trust Society, I would like the opportunity to comment on the proposals put forward by Bridgend County Borough Council (BCBC) for the regeneration of Porthcawl.

The society welcomes the news that the Eastern Prom will be given a new lease of life, improvements will be made to Hillsborough Car Park and, seemingly, the Harlequin building will be saved (more about this later).

The proposal to build a boutique hotel on or near the Dunraven Flats/Glamorgan Holiday Home sites is also interesting. However, overall, I can best quote comments made by members of the Society who have described the plans as ‘horrific’, ‘a disaster’, ‘lacking in imagination’ and will ’sink any idea of Porthcawl being a premier seaside resort’.

There will be mixed opinions about the planned supermarket.

At a town council meeting on 14th June, councillors expressed concern about the reduced footfall in John Street and it is difficult to see how a second supermarket will do anything to reverse this trend, especially as it will be placed well away from the town centre

As it is, three shops in John Street have already closed or are due for closure. However, it is recognised that many people will welcome the additional choice that a second supermarket will bring to the town

There is a proposal to build a ‘budget’ hotel which is to be sited on the present car parking area at the end of Dock Street. Surely, the town warrants something more upmarket, preferably with conference facilities. The future of the Harlequin building seems to be dependent on the building of this hotel.

The proposal to build 4 or 5 storey blocks of flats on Salt Lake is beyond words. Cllr Charles Smith has stated that housing to be built behind the supermarket is likely to be ‘quite dense’. It would be useful if we could see a map showing exactly where the housing and supermarket are to be built.

This leaves the vague idea of some form of leisure facility which may be built in 10 years time? Initially, the land earmarked for this purpose would be leased out and possibly be used as a skating rink in the winter and for housing a big wheel in the summer.

The society needs to have far more details about this development before being convinced that it will ever come to fruition.

BCBC has also confirmed that there will be a reduction in car parking spaces in the town.

Salt Lake will no longer be available and some of the spaces at the Hillsboro Place car park will need to be set aside for the budget hotel.

Adding car parking spaces to the Portway will not overcome the problem. It is unnecessary to set out the difficulties that will be caused by any reduction in car parking – this is clear to everyone except, it seems, BCBC planners.

So, this is the message we will be sending out:

Come to Porthcawl. Come and see our new blocks of flats, our dense housing, our new supermarket and our budget hotel But don’t come by car because there’s nowhere to park.

It is also important that an integrated transport system be considered, in the form of a metro or light railway linking Porthcawl with Bridgend. This would, at least, go some way to overcoming the car parking problem the town already faces at certain times of the year.

So what would the society like to see?

When entering the town, visitors should be met with an attractive and welcoming feature rather than blocks of flats and a bland ‘convenience store’.

The society believes that, as far as possible, Salt Lake should be split into two, with the side facing the Portway being used for car parking and the side facing the Eastern Prom being landscaped and left as an amenity area. This would leave sufficient open space to allow for some form of leisure facility to be built at a later date

The society suggests that BCBC should produce both a map and a costing for the improvements to Hillsboro car par and the Eastern Prom and for the plans we have suggested for Salt Lake.

We accept that BCBC wish to recover the £3 million paid to the Evans’ families for the lease, but more detail is needed.

BCBC should then put fresh proposals and/or alternatives to the town. These should be set out at a town meeting which BCBC have, so far, refused to consider.

If BCBC insists on pressing ahead with its current proposals or continues with its decision not to call a town meeting, the society suggests that the town council calls a meeting which we are confident would be well attended.

We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to make Porthcawl into the best it can be.

Don’t let’s waste it.

Don Tickner

Porthcawl Civic Trust Society

GEM NOTE: This article appeared on line on Monday (August 6) and BCBC issued this response: “Our plans are based on realistic, achievable, modern proposals that are designed to generate the greatest long-term benefit for Porthcawl.

“For example, additional hotel accommodation is essential if Porthcawl is to be capable of capitalising on further large-scale events such as the Seniors Open, so we are working with various leisure developers and Visit Wales on the potential for both high-end and budget facilities.

“The housing element and retail store are similarly vital in order to generate revenue to invest in new infrastructure, and to draw in people who can support existing businesses with fresh trade.

“As the council has to work with limited resources, suggestions such as building a light railway to link Porthcawl with Bridgend remain very unlikely. But leisure remains a key objective for the site, which is why the council is intent upon providing a high-quality promenade as part of the early phases of the scheme – the funding necessary for achieving this has to be generated by income from other phases of the scheme.

“We will bring forward other leisure developments as quickly as the investment market allows, and if there is any danger of that not happening until other phases are delivered, the council will look at what interim leisure opportunities could be provided at the southern end of Salt Lake.”

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