Porthcawl car park lease sale agreed to speed regeneration

Image caption,
Salt Lake car park, with the fair in the background, is at the heart of the regeneration zone

A hurdle to redeveloping a seaside resort has been overcome after a council agreed to spend £3.3m buying a lease on land at the heart of the plan.

Salt Lake car park in Porthcawl makes up a large portion of land earmarked for the first phase of a regeneration project for the town.

Two families own the long-term lease under a previous plan that has not materialised.

Bridgend council approved the recommendation on Wednesday.

Council leader Huw David called it "fantastic news and a significant investment into the future of Porthcawl".

The land has been the subject of many regeneration plans for more than 50 years, with schemes including a swimming pool and a marina on the table at various times.

The council signed a 20-year agreement with the two Evans families - one of whom runs the town's Coney Beach funfair - in 2011, which sets out terms for selling the land for the phase one development with a 60-40 split in the council's favour, subject to a minimum price being met.

At the time, the plan was to anchor a development around a food-based superstore on the site, with housing, leisure and community facilities.

However, according to the council's report, changes in the market meant proposed sales to Morrison and Tesco foundered, and subsequent offers did not meet either the minimum price requirement or the aims of the regeneration plan.

Image source, Alun Hughes/Geograph
Image caption,
Coney Beach funfair and the Sandy Bay area would form phase two of the redevelopment

The report said acquiring the Evans' leasehold, which covers 9.5 acres (3.8 hectares) of the site, would allow regeneration of the site to proceed, suggesting otherwise nothing may happen until after the lease expired in 2033.

The total cost to the council once stamp duty and VAT are included is £4.17m, although the report noted the £666,000 VAT cost could be recovered.

Terms of the sale will allow the Evans families the right to request leases for up to five kiosks along the proposed Sandy Bay promenade in phase two of the plan.

They will also be given a lease to Salt Lake car park until the end of November 2018 while they set up a temporary car park in the Sandy Bay area to run for the remaining life of the fair.

The second phase of development would involve the funfair site and the former Sandy Bay caravan park, and would be primarily residential.

The harbour area next to Salt Lake is undergoing transformation, with the Jennings Building on the waterfront recently revamped and opened as a cafe/restaurant complex, with the neighbouring Cosy Corner park area earmarked for a new maritime centre.

Charles Smith, cabinet member for education and regeneration, said work could start at the earliest in 2019, adding: "This is one of the biggest regeneration opportunities that the county borough has ever experienced.

"Salt Lake is currently the largest waterfront development site in Wales, and we want to maximise the opportunities that it represents for the benefit of residents and visitors alike.

"Interest from developers is likely to be high and we will seek to recover the costs of purchasing the leasehold interest through any subsequent development of the site."

Image source, Alan Hughes/Geograph
Image caption,
The harbourside Jennings building has been transformed into a cafe and restaurant complex...
Image source, Porthcawl Harbourside
Image caption,
.... and this is how the area should look once work on a maritime centre is finished