Multi-million-pound development bid made for Salt Lake in Porthcawl

ONE of the UK’s leading housebuilders and Cardiff-based property developers have made a multi-million-pound bid to develop housing, leisure, retail and community facilities on Porthcawl’s Salt Lake site.

Persimmon and PMG’s initial £4m offer for the land allocated for phase one of the stalled Porthcawl regeneration scheme is being backed by the Evans family, which holds the lease for the Bridgend County Borough Council-owned land.

A letter sent to councillors by property services company DTZ, which represents the Evans family, states failure to proceed with this latest development “would be fatal to Porthcawl’s regeneration prospects”.

It is understood Persimmon and PMG have offered an initial payment on completion of sale of £4m and claim further payments, which would be made to Bridgend council as housing units and projects are completed on the site, could exceed £18m.

A prime site for development…

Leaked documents show the proposed scheme has allocated land for 450 housing units “similar to the existing Porthcawl street scenes of Hillsboro Place, Mary Street and Esplanade Avenue”, has allocated land for a health centre, community facilities and the Grace Centre – which will be used for worship and other uses – retail, including a supermarket and an unspecified leisure development.

The documents also state that a hotel may be built as part of the scheme and that the Evans family, which runs the Coney Beach funfair, would be willing to purchase the under-threat Porthcawl Museum building from Bridgend Council at market value and donate it to Porthcawl Town Council if Bridgend Council approves the plan.

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This scheme comes after failed attempts to bring first Tesco and then Morrisons to the site, which was to have acted as a catalyst for regeneration.

In the letter to councillors, DTZ said: “Our clients consider the new proposals to be a great improvement on the previous failed schemes for both practical and aesthetic reasons.”

But it is understood borough council members in Porthcawl have voiced serious concerns about the plan, claiming it lacks basic detail such as who would run the health centre and what leisure facilities would be provided and by who and would not provide enough parking spaces for visitors.

They have also expressed concerns about the lack of financial detail in the plan.

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It is understood they believe that as other regeneration projects such as the community-led Harbourside scheme and Jennings Building redevelopment get underway, other more suitable developments will be attracted to Salt Lake.

Councillor Charles Smith, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Development at Bridgend County Borough Council, said: “It’s important to be absolutely clear that no deal has been reached on this proposal.

“While there are many positive aspects to what has been proposed and the overall vision is not that different to the council’s, there are also a number of issues and concerns that must be addressed.

“The council has consistently stated that any regeneration scheme for this site should be conducted by way of an open- market process, and this continues to be the only basis on which we will proceed as an off-market transaction has the potential to be challenged as unlawful.

“The authority is continuing to liaise with the Evans’ agents to try and overcome these concerns and move an appropriate scheme forward.

“In the mean time, I would like to reassure residents that the council remains committed towards regeneration in Porthcawl as demonstrated by our recent announcements regarding plans for the Jennings Building and harbourside area around Cosy Corner.

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“What we cannot do is agree to any proposed deal for the land around Salt Lake that is not right or which exposes us to undue risks. We remain open-minded, but a key requirement of any sale will be to ensure that this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity provides the type and quality of scheme that is absolutely right for Porthcawl.”

A spokesman for DTZ, which is acting on behalf of the Evans’ family, said: “Our clients have no comment other than to say they remain fully committed to fulfilling their duties under the JV (joint venture) agreement with Bridgend Council and by doing so, seeing a successful development completed for Porthcawl both on phase one and phase two of the Regeneration Scheme.”

Coun Smith added: “An integral part of previous plans for the site has been the inclusion of a large food store. Given the changes in the retail market and the time that has elapsed since those proposals were first considered, it’s clear that a new master plan for the area is required so the site can be openly marketed with bids invited for the delivery of a whole or phased scheme.

“The council will be updating residents as soon as there is any further news to announce.”

Also see: Specialist Porthcawl hotel to reopen after £1m investment

Article source: http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/local-news/multi-million-pound-development-bid-made-salt-9388757