Copyright Porthcawl Civic Trust Society 2017
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2 History of Porthcawl (February 2020):
The Society has produced 3 reports under the general heading 'Porthcawl: Much More Than Meets the Eye' and and a fourth report will be completed as time permits. All reports are over 100 pages long. The 3 reports are now available for veiwing and downloading.
The following is a very brief synopsis of each report.
Stage 1 covers the early residential area of the town ie The Square, Dock Street, Hillsboro Place etc together with the history of the inner and outer docks, the Eastern Prom. the Jennings Warehouse and Cosy Corner.
b) Stage 11 Part A, covers Newton, Nottage and the western part of the Porthcawl It looks at the history of the Rest Home, Rest Bay, Locks Common and the Prom and some of the main buidings in that area. The deveopment of golf and sea sports is also examined
c) Stage 11, Part B, covers 'old Porthcawl', as well as South Road, John Street, Wells Street, Lias Road, Station Hill and New Road. It also includes the areas around Griffin Park, the fairground and Trecco Bay Holiday Park.
d) The final report will concentrate on those areas of the town that haven't previously been covered.
In order to download the reports, please go to the Home page
3 Porthcawl Regeneration (July 2018)
Copied below is a letter sent to the Porthcawl Town Council on 23rd July.2018
Dear Councillor Clarke
I think you will agree that the strong public attendance at the town council meeting held on 14th June demonstrates the real interest that Porthcawl residents have in the future of their town. Few, if any, will have gone home singing the praises of Councillor Charles Smith and Andrew Parry Jones.
We fully understand the problems that BCBC face but, nevertheless, when considering any regeneration of the town, the priority must be that such regeneration will benefit both residents and visitors The plans put forward on 14th June ignore this important aim. So let’s look at the proposals in a little more detail.
There was some good news in that the Eastern Prom will be given a new lease of life, improvements will be made to Hillsboro Car Park and, seemingly, the Harlequin building will be saved (more about this later). Just about everything else was a disappointment. To quote some of the comments made by members of the Society, the plans are ‘horrific’, ‘a disaster’, ‘lacking in imagination, and will ’sink any idea of Porthcawl being a premier seaside resort’.
There are bound to be mixed opinions about the planned supermarket. Responses from our members on this issue have been limited, but those who have commented have all been against the idea of a second supermarket, mainly because of the perceived adverse effect on other businesses in the town. At the meeting on 14th June, councillors discussed the problem of the reduced footfall in John Street and there is concern that a second supermarket on Salt Lake will do nothing to reverse this trend, especially as it will be placed away from the town centre. As it is, a number of shops in John Street have recently closed or are due for closure. However, this is not a simple matter and it is recognised that many of our members would welcome the additional choice and competition that a second supermarket will bring to the town.
It is shameful that BCBC councillors are so lacking in vision that they regard Porthcawl as a town which will only attract a ‘budget’ hotel which, we understand, is to be sited on the present car parking area at the end of Dock Street. This indicates a real lack of confidence in the town. Surely, if there is to be a hotel, it needs to be more upmarket, most preferably with conference facilities. The future of the Harlequin building seems to be dependent on the building of this hotel. What will happen to the Harlequin building if the hotel doesn’t materialize?
Councillor Charles Smith also mentioned the possibility of building a second, boutique hotel. According to the report on in the Gazette, there is a proposal to build this hotel on the former Dunraven Flats and Glamorgan Holiday Home sites which would certainly make good use of that unsightly area and, presumably, would not take up any precious car parking spaces. At the meeting on 14th June, Councillor Smith seemed to suggest that the building of this second hotel will be dependent on some form of assurance that the Royal Porthcawl Golf Club will attract regular important competitions. How such an assurance can be obtained is unclear.
The proposal to build 4 or 5 storey blocks of flats on Salt Lake is beyond words, especially as the Society has been advised by a local estate agent that these would not be easy to sell The Society had hoped that, with the Evans families out of the equation, BCBC would come up with improved plans for Salt Lake car park but our hopes have been dashed. Again, according to the report in the Gazette, Councillor 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 is to be built.
This leaves the vague idea of some form of leisure facility which may be built in 5 years, 10 years time? The report in the Gazette suggests that, initially, the land set aside for this purpose could be leased out and possibly be used as a skating rink in the winter and for housing a big wheel in the summer. We need to have far more details about this development before we are convinced that it will ever come into fruition.
And car parking!! One thing that isn’t included in the Gazette’s report is the admission by Councillor Charles Smith that there will be a reduction in car parking facilities available in the town. Salt Lake will no longer be available as a car park and some of the spaces at the Hillsboro Place car park will need to be set aside for the budget hotel. We cannot see how adding car parking spaces to the Portway will ease the problem. I’m sure that 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.
Another important aspect not mentioned by BCBC is the need to have an integrated transport system, in the form of a light railway or Metro linking Porthcawl with Bridgend and beyond. 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?
While it is relatively easy to say what the town doesn’t want, it is more difficult to express what residents would like to see. Ask 100 people to express their views and there would probably be 100 different replies.
The Society’s view, which has broad support from its members, is that, as far as possible, Salt Lake should be split into two, with the area alongside the Portway being used for car parking and the area alongside 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
We suggest that BCBC produce both a map and a costing for the improvements to Hillsboro car park and the Eastern Prom as well as for the plans that we have suggested for Salt Lake, bearing in mind the revenue that BCBC would attract from the car parking elements. Add to this the £3m which BCBC wish to recover from buying out the Evans families. Once this costing has been produced, 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.
The Society would welcome the opportunity to discuss these proposals with the Town Council and would be happy to arrange a meeting at your convenience. If BCBC is adamant that there is no alternative but to press ahead with the ideas already put forward or continues with its decision not to call a town meeting, the Society suggests that our two organisations call such 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.
4. Porthcawl Regeneration (October 2019)
Let’s start off on a positive note.
The sea defences for the Harbour area, the Eastern Prom and Sandy Bay seem well on the way and this will enable further development in Porthcawl. The plans for the Eastern Prom look very encouraging. If they come to fruition, they will considerably improve the sea front area for both residents and holiday makers. The proposal for tidying up Hillsboro car park and improving access to the town is also welcome. But, as an old Disney caption says, ’That’s all folks’
The real bone of contention remains the plan for developing Salt Lake car park. Briefly, the intention is to develop Salt Lake, Hillsboro car park and the Eastern Prom in phases, namely:
There are three main areas of concern.
It is the Society’s view, the side of Salt Lake running alongside the Portway should remain available for car parking. The side running alongside the Eastern Prom should be landscaped and left as an open community area. In the fullness of time, and after public consultation, the area could then be developed for leisure purposes. It is understood that there is a need for more housing, including social housing, and this should be concentrated on Sandy Bay which BCBC has already been earmarked for residential use.
On several occasions, the Society has called for a public meeting in order to discuss regeneration but BCBC have repeatedly declined such a request – presumably because they anticipate an unfavourable outcome.
5. Regeneration (April 2020)
There has been a deathly silence from BCBC over the past 6 months or so with the result that there is little new to report. However, there are one or two matters to comment on.
First some positive news – the old Harlequin Building on Hillsboro car park has been saved. Unfortunately, due to its very poor state, the building has virtually had to be rebuilt but, as far as we can tell, the finished product will closely resemble the size and design of the original building. We have no information regarding the building’s future use.
Towards the end of last year the Society was informed that BCBC had set up a Regeneration Consultative Group although this had not been confirmed. However, in November 2019, the Wales Audit Office wrote to BCBC to say that an examination of the Porthcawl Resort Investment Focus Programme Delivery showed that ‘There is limited formal involvement and input to ensure that the full diversity of stakeholders is represented’. By ‘stakeholders’ we assume this should include local residents and their representatives. Given this, we consider it is reasonable that the Town Council and other local organisations such as the Civic Trust, should be included. In December, Suzy Davies, AM, wrote to Cllr Huw David, Leader of BCBC, to ask how BCBC intended to collaborate with stakeholders and community groups regarding the Masterplan for Porthcawl. In his reply, Cllr David states that ‘in July last year and earlier this month, sessions were held with a representative group of young people from Porthcawl Comprehensive School on planning for future development and land use allocations, within the Porthcawl regeneration area’ and we fully endorse this involvement of the youth of the town. However, it seems that the discussions concentrated almost entirely on the new Local Development Plan (LDP) and the main issue involved in the town’s regeneration ie the future of Salt Lake and Hillsboro car parks, was not included. Neither can it be said that these sessions can be regarded as a form of collaboration with stakeholders and community groups. In the second paragraph of Cllr David’s letter he states that ‘The Authority is always seeking to identify different ways of directly consulting with groups and organisations which don’t always engage in more traditional consultative events.’ Can this be interpreted as meaning that there will be no face to face meetings with the Town Council and other organisations such as the Civic Trust?
Despite the clear concerns expressed regarding the location of a new convenience store at the northern end of Salt Lake car park, there has been no indication that BCBC is prepared to reconsider the matter. As said in the past, the Society is well aware that there are mixed feelings about the need of another store and, as a result, the Executive Committee has to take a neutral stance. However, there is widespread agreement that any new store should be located as near to the town centre as possible. An item included in a planning brief put to councillors in July 2019, said that the new supermarket should improve the commercial vitality and viability of the town centre but, as yet, BCBC has been unable or unwilling to explain how the proposed location of the new store will achieve this aim. The fear is that shoppers will simply go to the new store, do their shopping and then return home. The proposed location of the store will do nothing to encourage shoppers to visit John Street once they have completed their main shop.
Another serious concern remains the considerable reduction in car parking spaces if, as intended, Salt Lake car park in urbanised. It is accepted that the car park is not always fully utilised but on warm sunny weekends (and with climate change the number is likely to increase) it is not unusual to see 200 or so cars making use of the space. And at certain times of the year e.g the Elvis Festival and the firework displays, the car park can be crowded. The loss of Salt Lake as a car park will put more pressure on the town car park and Hillsboro car park which, in turn, is likely to disadvantage local residents who drive into town to do their shopping. It is also likely to discourage visitors to the town who will find it increasingly difficult to find parking spaces. There are a number of supermarkets within a short drive from the town, each with ample car parking facilities, that are willing and able to take on additional trade. This will do nothing to support the commercial viability of local businesses. As a further point, we are concerned that the plans for Salt Lake could have a serious impact on the recreational ambience of Griffin Park. Although not in the pristine condition it has enjoyed in the past, Griffin Park is still a very important part of the town’s amenities, used by both younger children and as a ‘hang out’ place for teenagers who have few places of their own to meet.
6 Regeneration (September 2020),
BCBC’s Cabinet has now formally approved the regeneration plans for Porthcawl. Briefly, these comprise
None of these seem particularly controversial though there are, as yet, no details.
However, there is still considerable concern over the plans for Salt Lake. Again briefly, these comprise
It is also proposed to build a bus terminus ‘opposite the food store’ though the actual location is unclear and there has been some mention of an hotel though we have no confirmation on this point.
7. Regeneration (October 2020)
A letter sent to BCBC Coucil Leader Huw David is below:
Dear Councillor David
It is noted that at a meeting held on 15 September, BCBC’s Cabinet formally agreed to the proposals for the regeneration of Porthcawl. An item dated 18 September on the BCBC website gives more details and I would now like to comment on behalf of the Porthcawl Civic Trust Society (the Society).
To start on a positive note, the website item stated that ‘... At Coney Beach and Sandy Bay, negotiations are underway with owners of several small pockets of land needed for future phases of the regeneration, which includes the extension of Griffin Park, a new roundabout and access road, and a mix of new residential and commercial development as well as a proposed new school’. It should be made clear that the Society has no argument with these broad plans though the devil will, of course, be in the detail. Similarly, an earlier plan for the development on the Eastern Prom looks promising.
However, the Society is still very concerned about the proposed development of Salt Lake car park and The Green (at the northern end of the car park) It is proposed that a new food store be built on The Green and that the land adjacent to the store will be developed for housing. The BCBC website goes on to say that ‘... Two more phases of housing development will be taken forward in the centre of the Salt Lake site’ while ‘...The remaining quarter of the Salt Lake site near the marina has been marked for a new leisure attraction’. Again, the Society welcomes the creation of a ‘leisure attraction’ though based on the original plan for the area, the leisure scheme is at the tail end of the overall development and there is no indication what form it will take. The website also states that ‘... a new Porthcawl Terminus is being developed opposite the food store as part of the South East Wales Metro Plus initiative’ though it is not clear whether this will be located on Salt Lake.
When the proposal for a new food store was first mooted, a spokesperson for BCBC stated the new store ‘... should improve the vitality and viability of the town centre’. To date, no-one from BCBC has been willing or able to explain the rationale behind that statement. The Society is aware that while some of its members welcome the increased choice the new store will bring, others are concerned about the impact the new store will have on other businesses in the town. For this reason, the Society has suggested that the new store should be located on Hillsboro car park so, hopefully, encouraging more shoppers to access John Street after they have completed their main shop.
Another area of concern is the lack of car parking in the town if Salt Lake car park is urbanised. The Society has long argued that Salt Lake should be retained as a town amenity with the western side being retained as a car park and the eastern side landscaped. In the fullness of time and after consultation with the town’s residents, the area could then be developed as a tourist attraction.
However, the Society’s main area of concern is the apparent lack of any meaningful consultation. This is despite the criticism levelled at BCBC in November 2019 by the Wales Audit Office who stated that an examination of the Porthcawl Resort Investment Focus Program showed that ‘ ...There is limited formal involvement and input to ensure that the full diversity of stakeholders is represented’ This criticism seems to have been ignored by BCBC insofar as stakeholders, including the various organisations that represent the residents of the town, in particular the Porthcawl Town Council, have not been approached by BCBC to obtain their views. In December 2019, you stated that ‘...The authority is always seeking to identify different ways of directly consulting with groups and organisations which don’t always engage in more traditional consultative events’. While this is a laudable aim, it is not clear how this statement should be interpreted or how effective this non traditional form of consultation will be. If there is to be no meaningful consultation, the Welsh Government should be asked to intervene and call the plan in for expert review.
As already stated, despite these omissions, BCBC’s Cabinet has agreed the regeneration plans although it is noted that none of the Cabinet members represent Porthcawl or, it seems, have any feel or regard for what residents want or, more importantly, what they don’t want. The Society would like to know how well Cabinet members know Porthcawl, do they visit the town on a regular basis, have they attempted to determine for themselves what the town wants and needs? Or have the regeneration proposals simply been ‘rubber-stamped’.
You are also quoted as saying that the regeneration of Porthcawl will make the town ‘... a welcoming and important destination’. Can you enlarge on this and explain how filling Salt Lake with a food store, housing and, possibly, a bus terminus, will encourage more people to visit the town – especially as there will be less car parking spaces available? How will the current proposals help make Porthcawl into the oft quoted ’premier seaside resort’ and how will the changes improve the ambience of the town and make it a more desirable place to live?
Over a hundred years ago, following the closure of the Porthcawl Dock, the Porthcawl Urban District Council developed what was an industrial wasteland into a main attraction of an increasingly popular holiday resort. Is it too much to expect that today’s BCBC councillors have the same foresight, ambition and determination as their predecessors?
And finally, the Society would welcome formal responses to the attached questions.
For and on behalf of the Porthcawl Civic Trust Society
CC Jamie Wallis, MP, Suzy Davies, MS, Carwyn Jones, MS, Caroline Jones MS, members of the Porthcawl Town Council, Shout, members of the Porthcawl Civic Trust Society
Under the heading PORTHCAWL WATERFRONT REGENERATION SCHEME : SALT LAKE AND SANDY BAY SITES, item 7.1, of the minutes of the Council’s Cabinet meeting held on 15 September states
Can you provide details of any such collaboration/engagement that has taken place ‘with the community’, first regarding the building and location of a food store and, secondly, regarding the overall plan for Salt Lake?
8 Regeneration (December 2020)
A reply to the above letter has now been recieved from Cllr. David and is shown below:
The Society's response to the above letter is below:
Dear Councillor David,
Thank you for your comprehensive letter of 7 December, 2020. Its contents have been considered by the Society’s Executive Committee and I have been asked to reply on its behalf.
While the new proposals made in respect of Cosy Corner are noted, it is the Society’s view that, as thing stand, taking into account the future development of Sandy Bay and the number of other planning applications either in the pipeline or already put forward, Porthcawl is in danger of becoming purely a dormitory town rather than a premier seaside resort.
Turning now to two particular points made in your letter:
You have explained the process followed when considering the need for and location of the foodstore and you refer to the Development Control Committee being a ‘public meeting’. The Society would be interested in knowing whether these meetings were publicised and how many of the public attended. We suspect that Porthcawl’s residents would not have been aware of such a secret process or that information was generally available on the BCBC website. No matter what gloss BCBC chooses to put on it, it appears that the decisions were made behind closed doors. As a result, there was no consultation.
Despite your confidence regarding the its location, it is questionable whether people shopping in John Street will then move on to the new foodstore, no matter what improvements are made to ‘pedestrian linkages’. Moreover, it is even less likely that people shopping at the new foodstore will then carry their shopping into John Street for any topping up, especially in inclement weather. In that regard, time will tell. To date, John Street has been fortunate in not suffering from the empty shops’ syndrome that has plagued other areas and it is to be hoped that the decision made by today’s BCBC Councillors won’t turn out to be the ruination of Porthcawl – which is widely regarded as having happened to Bridgend.
You mention 3 organisations, namely:
In your letter, you also refer to ‘a board of officers who oversee the work that is being undertaken’. Having regard to the Council’s stated policy that Porthcawl should be developed as a premier seaside resort, can you clarify that it is a priority for this ‘board of officers’ to ensure that the financial gain from the sale of land does not prejudice the visual quality of the character of the townscape?
At the meeting held on 15 September, 2020, BCBC’s Cabinet agreed the importance of collaborating with Porthcawl’s residents and that ‘ongoing engagement with the community will be an important facet of this project’. We note the word ‘ongoing’. You have said that ‘the plan has no formal status from a planning perspective and, therefore, has not been the subject of public consultation’. The Society doubts that residents are interested in such technical definitions. From their point of view, the plan has been formally agreed by Cabinet and published in the press and, as primary stakeholders, residents should now be given the opportunity to express their views before BCBC carries out more work and incurs more expenses on an unwanted and unwelcomed development.
Whilst it is clear that BCBC does not consider consultation with Porthcawl residents to be a matter of primary concern or urgency, the residents themselves take quite the opposite view. The Society strongly urges the council to make this a matter of priority. It is recognised that, in the current climate, it is not feasible to hold a town meeting (which the council has declined to do in any case) but the Society suggests that BCBC makes arrangements for a leaflet to be delivered to every resident in Porthcawl which sets out alternative proposals for Salt Lake ie the one formally agreed by BCBC’s Cabinet and one suggested by the Society in our letter dated 22 October, 2020. Residents would then be able to consider the two alternative plans and vote for their preferred choice.
It is acknowledged that this could lead to manifold problems for BCBC if the Society’s plan was to be the preferred option, as the council would then have the difficult choice of either completely changing their course of action or ignoring the aspirations of residents. However, that’s the price of having a democracy rather than a dictatorship.
As regards your replies to the 8 specific questions raised in our letter of 22 October, 2020, please see our further comments attached.
For and on behalf of the Porthcawl civic Trust Society
Cc Dr Jamie Wallis, MP, Suzy Davies, MS, Caroline Jones, MS, Carwyn Jones, MS, Porthcawl Town Councillors, Shout, members of the Porthcawl Civic Trust Society
For and on behalf of the Porthcawl civic Trust Society
Cc Dr Jamie Wallis, MP, Suzy Davies, MS, Caroline Jones, MS, Carwyn Jones, MS, Porthcawl Town Councillors, Shout, members of the Porthcawl Civic Trust Society
As regards your replies to the 8 particular questions the Society raised in asked in its letter of 22 October, 2020, we would like to make further comment as follows
The Society will need to await further information from BCBC
We have already commented in our above letter –see the comments under Foodstore on page 1
We still cannot understand your logic that urbanising Salt Lake, no matter what the quality of the buildings, will enhance ‘the attractiveness of the town as a tourist destination’.
We suspect that any leisure facility is at least 10 years away and we would welcome further information about this development as it becomes available.
As with question 3, we cannot see how the building of a foodstore and a number of multi storey apartment blocks on Salt Lake, will contribute ‘to the ambience of the town and its attractiveness as a pleasant place to live’.
See the Society’s comments to 3 and 5 above.
We’re not sure what you have in mind for future car parking facilities. One suggestion that has been made is a ‘park and ride’ scheme but the Society is far from convinced that such a scheme would be successful. With other seaside resorts such as Barry, Aberavon and Swansea already superior in providing seaside amenities, tourists and day trippers will easily turn their backs on Porthcawl if any future development in the town makes car parking more difficult.
We hope the council will give urgent consideration to the need to provide long stay parking for coaches.