Senior councillors to discuss plans for seafront developments
Richard Youle, local democracy reporter
Proposals to develop seafront sites in Swansea, including flats and a park and ride at the Recreation Ground at St Helen’s and an elevated cafe at the nearby Slip Bridge, are to be explored further.
A council committee will also consider potential development at other sites: the lido area at Blackpill, although the lido would remain; the tennis courts and public toilets by Alma Road, Langland; the tennis courts by the Oyster Wharf development, Mumbles; and Quarry car park, Mumbles.
The economy and infrastructure service transformation committee, as it’s known, had a workshop earlier this month about a long-term council plan for possible development at six seafront sites, although they weren’t listed in the report before them on July 20.
A second workshop will now be held to discuss the options further.
Previous iterations of this plan – the Swansea Bay Strategy – have come and gone. There has been no development at the Langland site, the Blackpill site or another candidate site at the time at the bottom of Sketty Lane.
However, the Mumbles Community Council-funded skate park has taken shape at West Cross, and the former 360 Beach and Watersports venue at St Helen’s has been upgraded to The Secret Beach Bar and Kitchen. More recently The Observatory cafe-bar is also part of the seafront furniture.
The idea of flats and what the report before the committee described as “multi-level” parking at the Recreation Ground were a concern for Cllr Stuart Rice, whose Uplands ward incorporates the area. “I’m not too keen on that,” he said.
Cllr Rice said he felt there was scope for “innovation” at the Slip Bridge site but pointed out that political administrations had for years struggled to find a way forward. The bridge’s arch-shaped span was removed in 2005 due to concerns about its condition and relaid on the prom a few hundred metres to the west.
Cllr Will Thomas suggested that the next workshop looked at a new multi-storey car park at the Quarry car park, on the approach to Mumbles. He also suggested improvements at the Mumbles tennis courts, none of which are currently in use. His preference was some sort of sport and recreation facility.
The current thinking for the Langland site is serviced apartments or a hotel, public toilets and possibly a spa-type facility. Cllr Thomas said he had an open mind on this, but added: “I would really like to keep as much sports and rec (recreation) as we can on that site.”
Cllr Robert Francis-Davies, cabinet member for investment, regeneration, events and tourism, said he broadly agreed with Cllr Thomas about the need for more parking at Mumbles. It, he said, was “a huge destination,” adding that not everybody could get there on bike or on foot along the prom.
Cllr Francis-Davies said there was a question mark about the feasibility of a multi-storey car park at the Quarry car park, and added that the rock face was a site of special scientific interest.
He also said the ongoing redevelopment of the Mumbles seawall offered scope for recreation improvements and that the council did not wish to spoil anything.
Cllr Francis-Davies said idea of development at Langland was to attract visitors, and pointed out that three of the six tennis courts there had been leased to Mumbles Community Council.
The council had previously invited expressions of interest in the Langland site, but nothing was taken forward. One idea raised in 2020 by Cllr Thomas and dual code rugby legend Jonathan Davies was a padel tennis court. The fast-growing racket sport is played in an enclosed court around a third of the size of a tennis court – and the former Wales fly-half is a fan. “It really is a great game I have played many times abroad and Langland is the perfect place for it,” he said at the time.
Meanwhile, the council said last year that it was supporting a group called Friends of Slip Bridge in its aim to reinstate the bridge on the abutments at St Helen’s. The group has a proposal to install a replica bridge span and build a cafe, plus beach sports facilities. The council said it held a capital sum of £139,000 to help facilitate future bridge plans, for example supporting specialist design work commissioned by the group.
Cllr Phil Downing said the some of the proposals being explored further could “drop by the wayside”.
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