After 40 years of failed regeneration schemes in Porthcawl a huge swathe of projects are on the verge of completely transforming the town.
Regeneration plans have previously been hit by the financial crash which happened right at the point the council went out to market to attract developers.
Three master plans for the town failed to materialise.
Plans were also partly put on hold due to a long-lasting deadlock for one of the prime development sites – Salt Lake.
But the deadlock ended a few months ago when landowners Bridgend County Borough Council paid £3m to the leaseholders of Salt Lake car park to relinquish their rights.
Planners have since changed the plans to match current market appetite.
The development now includes a small-scale supermarket, housing and hotels while separate regeneration plans across the town involve a maritime centre, a watersports centre, new apartments and upgraded sea defences.
Bridgend Council’s cabinet member for regeneration Charles Smith said: “There is a new, positive feeling in the air, and I think it arises from a sense that many different strands of work, with patience, persistence and cooperation involving many people, both in the public eye, and behind the scenes, are at last all coming together.
“We’ll never manage to please all of the people all of the time, but I believe that we now have the external circumstances, the vision and the political will to achieve things in Porthcawl of which we can all be proud, and which will confirm Porthcawl’s rightful place as a destination whose reputation and appeal goes way beyond Bridgend and the borders of Wales.”
He added: “In the next 12 months we will be working to kickstart the Salt Lake development.
“This will be done in phases. The first phase involves the supermarket and Hillsboro Place car park with the sea defences coming next and leasing out the leisure site, and then onto the design of the houses.”
Below are the sites set for development in the town.
Salt Lake Car Park
Salt Lake Car Park in Porthcawl (Image: Copyright Unknown)
Regeneration officers at Bridgend County Borough Council are speaking with retailers about building a supermarket on the northern end of Salt Lake Car Park.
Plans involve building a variety of housing behind the supermarket. The housing is likely to be “quite dense” and could include a four-or five-storey development.
At the southern end of Salt Lake Car Park there are plans to put a leisure facility.
Bridgend Council is looking at first making the site available for operators to run on a short-term basis for five or seven years while it works on a longer-term strategy and brings forward the wider development area which would help create a more stable leisure base.
Councillor Smith suggested it could be used in the short-term for an ice-rink in winter as part of a winter wonderland and a big wheel in summer, similar to the one on Barry Island.
Hillsboro Place Car Park
The majority of Hillsboro Place will remain as a car park but will be upgraded.
The southern end of the car park which is separated by small stone pillars is land set aside for a budget hotel.
The council hopes this will also involve the renovation of the Harlequin building, the only remaining part of the town’s former railway station.
There will be an upgrade to the Eastern Promenade.
Cabinet member for regeneration at BCBC Charles Smith would like to see a tree-lined boulevard attraction where people can come and promenade.
It will still include cycle lanes and two-way traffic.
Sea defences on the Eastern Promenade
Before any housing is built, new coastal defences need to be built along the Eastern Prom at Sandy Bay. Work on this is planned for 2020-21.
Bridgend Council is currently working with the Welsh Government on a design for coastal protection and enhancements.
The Portway, the main approach road into the town, will be re-engineered with crossing places, visual improvements and the prospect of on-street parking. The idea is to make it more pedestrian friendly.
Dunraven Flats site
Bridgend Council would like to see a boutique hotel built on the former Dunraven Flats site which is on the corner of the Eastern Promenade and the Esplanade.
However, due to a covenant on the land, a “very high percentage” of anything put there that makes a profit goes to the Welsh Government.
Councillor Smith said this was acting as a disincentive and work was currently ongoing to produce a more favourable outcome.
Plans for a Maritime Centre were given planning permission in 2016.
It includes a £5.5m building which will host a coastal science and discovery centre, a hydrotherapy pool, a micro brewery, a themed restaurant, a cafe, an information centre and accommodation for groups such as schools to stay.
However, the design of the building – as advertised on the boards set up on Cosy Corner – is being modified due to costs.
County councillor Mike Clarke who is chairman of the Porthcawl Harbourside Community Interest Company (CIC) said amended plans would go before Bridgend Council planners in September and if approved, work could begin in October.
He said: “The original plans for what will be in the maritime centre are still in place, the only thing that is changing is the external appearance.
“The design included a considerable amount of glass which meant it was very costly and to achieve the cap on spend which is a European funding requirement, as well as a high quality building from an environmental point of view, the design has been modified.”
The maritime centre will be built opposite the Jennings Building on the waterfront which was recently redeveloped with new bars and restaurants and live/work units.
Tarmac Beach redesign
The Tarmac beach development site (Image: Rob Browne)
The new sea defence which is replacing Porthcawl’s infamous Tarmac beach is set to be completed by this winter.
The terraced, sand-colour structure is being constructed in a £3m project that will protect seafront buildings and streets from storm surges.
The Harbourside kiosk and the former bait shop kiosk
The Harbourside kiosk is being refurbished to give the historic building a “fresh new look” and introduce showers, toilets and other facilities for boats visiting Porthcawl Marina.
Bridgend Council is in discussions about leasing the former bait shop kiosk as part of the Harbourside/Cosy Corner development.
Sandy Bay development
This involves housing and open space, and space for a travelling fairground.
It will be a joint partnership between Bridgend Council and the Evans family.
Porthcawl Rest Bay watersports centre
With work due to begin in August, the council will shortly be announcing details of the successful tender for the integrated watersports centre and café project at Rest Bay.
This is being built on the site of the current toilets, kiosk and café which are being demolished.
It will provide “new high-quality facilities in an iconic, contemporary attraction capable of supporting and developing sports and leisure activities in the area”.
Read more about the project here .
Porthcawl Rest Bay care home
The Grade II-listed, Victorian building has been bought privately and is currently being converted into 69 apartments by Acorn Property Group in a development called The Links .
The design for the building will retain the listed façade and incorporate new-build accommodation at the rear.
The former convalescence hotel ceased operating in 2013.
Former respite holiday hotel – the Glamorgan Holiday Hotel
This is not owned by Bridgend Council but the council is looking to talk to interested parties in developing it. The potential is for the developer to use this and turn it into a hotel.
The council has received “early approaches” from prospective buyers of the site, mainly regarding planning issues.
Source: Wales OnlineS