Time line given on Porthcawl regeneration plans. Salt Lake will stay as a car park for at least four years.

Friday, 16 November 2018

– Environment

by Liz BradfieldGEM Local Democracy Reporter

Multi-million pound regeneration plans for Porthcawl will go before Bridgend County Borough Council’s (BCBC) cabinet on Tuesday.

The town’s regeneration is set to take place over a number of stages beginning with a supermarket being built at the northern end of Salt Lake Car Park.

Work could well start next year on a housing development next to the new store and a revamp for Hillsboro Car Park.

Further down the line will be further housing on the seafront, and possibly a leisure scheme and a hotel.

Some of the plans are first dependent on gaining funding grants from the Welsh Government for new coastal defences which will include a new Eastern Promenade. This is because the flood risk needs to be mitigated.

It appears that the bulk of Salt Lake will stay as a car park (operated by BCBC) until sea defences are built on the Eastern Promenade, a project that depends on a Welsh Government grant.

On Tuesday, November 20, cabinet members will be asked to approve a presentation of the plans before full council.

It includes the reinvestment of around £2.6 million funding once land sales have gone through.

At the end of last year BCBC agreed to pay the two Evans families £3.33m to relinquish their rights to Salt Lake Car Park. At the time, it said it needed to reclaim that cash through making land available for developers.

Officers say the anticipated receipt from the completion of all phases is expected to be around £7 million to £8 million.

BCBC expenditure, apart from the above £3.3 million, will be £1 million match funding if the Welsh Government grant bid is successful, and £2.6 million on upgrading Hillsboro Car park, and on general infrastructure work.

Below are the planned development phases (see illustration).

Phase one

The first phase involves a supermarket at the northern end of Salt Lake Car Park.

The site does not need any coastal protection works, and officers say there is currently strong market interest from a number of retailers for a smaller format store in the town.

In the report, officers point out that previous attempts to bring forward redevelopment in Porthcawl were thwarted largely by the collapse of the food-store market.

They say it is important that BCBC capitalises on the current “buoyant” market conditions.

BCBC hopes to start marketing the site in early 2019 with the earliest date for receiving money from the sale in summer 2020.

The earliest date for the supermarket being completed is summer 2021.

The sale of the store site will enable the council to then reinvest the money in the next stages.

Phase two

This section of land is next to the new store and has the potential to be served by the new access road that the store developer will build.

The site, which is the only other section of land on the Salt Lake site that doesn’t require coastal protection works, is identified for housing.

A development brief will be produced before the site goes out to marketing in 2019.

Phase three

Hillsboro Place Car Park will see investment with a series of investments planned, including accessibility improvements and a “more efficient” layout that will increase car parking numbers.

This work will start as soon as the sale of the supermarket goes through in 2020/21 because the money will enable the uplift.

The new layout of the car park would also allow for the release of land on the edges for “further commercial leisure development”.

Councillors have previously said they would like to see a boutique hotel and a budget hotel on the site.

Phase four

If Welsh Government approves BCBC’s coastal defence bid the work will take place between 2020/21.

In addition to the coastal protection work, the scheme will also include a new Eastern Promenade.

Phases four to seven are dependent on funding being gained for coastal defences.

A decision by the Welsh Government is not expected until autumn/winter 2019.

If successful, it would result in 75% funding via the Local Government Borrowing Initiative towards the works with the council providing the remaining amount – expected to be around £1 million.

Officers point out that if its funding bid for a coastal protection grant is unsuccessful, there will be an impact on the programme and project viability.

Phases five and six

The time-scales of the remaining part of the Salt Lake site will depend on when the coastal defences are undertaken.

The two sections of land are identified for housing – development briefs or an updated master-plan will be created before marketing begins.

It is expected to include a variety of types. It could include a four or five-storey development on the seafront.

It is anticipated the development will start in 2022/23.

Before these sections are brought forward for development, it is proposed that they will be mainly used as a council run car park.

The council plans to spend £100,000 on new pay and display machines, signage and site remedial works to make the temporary Salt Lake Car Park operational.

It wants it to open before Easter 2019 and says the £100,000 funding will be repaid from income generated from the car park.

Officers say the use of land as a temporary car park will help inform any future consideration of additional public parking that may be allocated within phases five or six to supplement the main car park on Hillsboro Place.

Phase seven

According to officers, the leisure investor market is weak at present, and the previous phases will need to be first brought forward to create confidence among leisure investors.

While the strategy is based on this being a late phase in the plan – after 2023 – the council is in discussions with Visit Wales to promote the site as part of a Wales-wide strategy to attract national investors to a small number of strategic tourism and leisure sites.

Officers say that as a fall back to these, a strategy will be produced to look at the provision of temporary activities on the site prior to a permanent leisure scheme coming forward.

Philip Irwin / Liz Bradfield (local democracy reporter).

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