Community groups unveil plans for £3.5m Porthcawl regeneration project

A community co-operative sick of Porthcawl’s snail’s-pace regeneration have unveiled plans for their own multi-million-pound waterside project.

A collective of town organisations – led by Sea Cadets chairman and Porthcawl mayor Mike Clarke and Welsh Surfing Federation veteran Stuart Bentley – this week released their plans for a new £3.5m “Maritime Centre” at Cosy Corner.

The “Harbourside” project would see a four-storey building go up next to the new marina, with facilities ranging from a maritime museum to a “Flow Rider” standing wave for surfers.

The project is in its infancy but backers said discussions were under way with potential funders and feedback had been “encouraging”.

Now the public will get their first glimpse of the plans at a consultation session in the Grand Pavilion on Saturday.

Coun Clarke said after “God knows how many years” of stuttering regeneration, it was time the people of the town to grasped the nettle and took the initiative.

“If we are going to stop the decline in Porthcawl, something big has to be done,” he said.

“If the town is going to pick itself up for the next century then someone has to stand up and do something and that is what we are trying to do and we hope we get support.

“For years and years, we have seen very little investment in Porthcawl and there has been a lot of criticism levelled at us for not coming up with ideas. Now we have come up with one and we are putting it to the public this weekend.”

Coun Clarke said the project, which has been worked on behind the scenes for months before this week’s public unveiling, will be delivered in three stages.

An initial £250,000 phase would see a temporary smaller building erected on Cosy Corner and a dry dock to increase the new marina’s berth numbers. Funding and planning permission should be in place  in six months’ time, Coun Clarke said.

Later phases would see the small building replaced by the main four-storey Maritime Centre, with the lower deck built in phase two and the upper floors built later in phase three.

The total budget will not exceed £3.5m, Coun Clarke added, and the project would completed in three years.

“We know this is an ambitious project and it is not a done deal, but we are not just flying a kite here either,” said Coun Clarke.

As well as the surfing wave and museum, the finished centre would also house a range of boating and harbour services for marina users, top-floor four-star bunkhouse accommodation, a cafe bar and rooms for arts and educational space.

It would also create “all-year-round” jobs, Coun Clarke said.

The building would also form a base for the Sea Cadets, the Welsh Surfing Federation and other seaside groups and schools would be involved in the development of the building’s educational facilities. It would be operated as not-for-profit social enterprise. A community interest company is being formed to take the project forward, with a board to be elected in July.

The proposals come as £3.2m works to upgrade Porthcawl Harbour continue and the Jennings Building is set for a revamp under the £1m Porthcawl Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI).

Porthcawl Town Council have also been in talks with BCBC over progressing its plans for £650,000 sports centre and social hub.

“The Maritime Centre is totally different from the town council’s community hub,” said Coun Clarke, who added that the town needs both.

The consultation session on the plans is in the Grand Pavilion between 10am and 4pm on Saturday.

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