Revised plans for seafront development ‘welcomed as a compromise’ by residents
Ted Peskett, local democracy reporter
After weeks of public pressure, a council has decided to revise its controversial plans for a new housing development.
Bridgend County Borough Council (BCBC) is now proposing to reduce the number of houses that could be built at Salt Lake, Porthcawl, in favour of more green space after calls from residents to put the community at the centre of the development.
Following a consultation, the council said the plans now recommend reducing the overall amount of housing by a third and the creation of a new coastal park.
If approved, the new coastal park along the seafront would almost be the size of two football pitches laid back-to-back – about 200m long and 70m wide.
The decision has been greeted with much excitement by residents.
Rachael Hunter said: “It’s good news, and good to see the voices of the community being heard. The large land take for housing initially proposed for Salt Lake was concerning for many residents.”
“It is now really important that conversations and collaboration between the council and the community doesn’t stop here, and that there is an ongoing dialogue especially in respect of other proposed developments such as in Sandy Bay.”
When asked how much it meant to her as a resident to see change at Salt Lake, Rachael said: “People are generally supportive of change on Salt Lake, but many do feel strongly that this land should remain an adaptable space for future generations of Porthcawl, and visitors to the town.
“Once built on with housing that opportunity is gone. Salt Lake is perfectly positioned to provide leisure and recreation opportunities for both residents and visitors.”
Jamie Strong, a member of the group called Voice for the Future Porthcawl, which called on BCBC to re-think its plans for Salt Lake, said: “This is really great news for our efforts regarding retaining land on Salt Lake.
“A linear park of 200m in length and 70m width could deliver a range of desired facilities that would provide safe, inclusive fun and relaxation for people of all ages and really bring our community together both during its development and for a long time following.”
The development of housing at Salt Lake is part of a larger effort by BCBC to redevelop Porthcawl’s seafront.
Plans for a new Metro-link development – a four-bay bus terminus and building – along The Portway, next to the Salt Lake car park have already been put together and the construction of a new Aldi superstore is set to get underway this summer.
As well as a potential loss of green space, many residents were concerned about the potential visual impact that the development could have on the town.
Jamie added: “It is essential that this land is protected in law for the use that it is now intended to ensure that it remains as an adaptable space for our future generations.
“Moving forward regarding Salt Lake, we hope to be very much involved, as I hope many other groups and individuals in Porthcawl will be, in the development of this park and also we hope to influence in whatever way possible the criteria that is issued to developers for the remaining land.
“It is our wish that any residential [buildings] be sustainable, robust, affordable, innovative and timeless in design.
“We do not want to be left with a future eyesore. On a personal note I do hope that a similar theme will continue around the corner into Sandy Bay.”
Porthcawl resident and Voice for the Future member, Gemma Lewis, said: “The fact that we have been listened to and that all of our comments and suggestions haven’t been made in vain [is nice] and it is nice to think that there will be communal space for the residents.
“We have got the beach and the promenade, which is lovely, but we are lacking green space in Porthcawl.
“[It is also] the fact that we are holding back the building of more permanent structures and instead keeping the space free for future generations with the environment in mind.”
The future of Salt Lake, which is currently used as a car park, has been the subject of heated debate for over 40 years.
Councillor for Porthcawl West Central, Sean Aspey said it was important the land at Salt Lake was put to use.
He said: [Salt Lake] has been like that for the last five decades and we have to accept the fact that we can’t leave it as it is for another five decades.
“The mindset over recent years has changed quite dramatically. There is a willingness and desire now to do something of a quality development.
“My concern has always been that when things start up, the plans look quite nice and then they get chipped away and people start building apartment blocks. Before you know it, we have ended up with something worse than what [has been] planned.”
Cllr Aspey said the council’s update “has to be welcomed as a compromise”.
He added: “There is nobody who would just come along and buy all of that land and just turn it into leisure. We would never achieve it. The less housing [there] the better.”
The number of homes built at Salt Lake will ultimately depend upon what proposals are put forward by potential developers when invited to place their bids by BCBC.
A BCBC spokesperson said the council “anticipates in the region of 1,100 new homes spread across both the Salt Lake and Sandy Bay West sites” to be built.
These would supposedly include a “significant content of affordable homes with a range of tenures” and range from family houses to apartment living.
It is envisaged that these buildings will be four or five-storeys high, with the taller development facing outward to the bay.
As the development approaches areas of existing traditional and terraced homes, the height of new development will drop to two or three storeys.
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