Mumbles Pier hotel rooms and flats 'approved' unanimously by Swansea councillors

By Richard Youle - Local Democracy Reporter

17:50, 6 NOV 2018 - UPDATED12:09, 7 NOV 2018

Swansea's planning committee has sent a strong signal to the Welsh Government by unanimously approving plans to redevelop the Mumbles Pier headland and foreshore, despite not having the final say.

Welsh ministers said last week that the committee could only defer or turn down the plans — any granting of permission required their prior authorisation.

While ministers are still deciding whether to call in the application or not, Swansea councillors felt it merited the go-ahead.

The application is for 69 hotel rooms and ground floor commercial use at a five-storey headland building, and 26 two to three-storey foreshore flats, along with a revamped pavilion and extended boardwalk.

The project has split opinion in Mumbles but the development has had outline planning consent for years and featured in a Swansea Bay strategy action plan — involving the council and Welsh Government — before then.

The current application concerns the design and slightly altered scale of the headland and foreshore buildings.

Councillor Des Thomas said: “We have talked about the development at the pier since the formation of this authority.”

He accused objectors in the area of opposing all developments, such as Verdi’s and the Oyster Wharf scheme, and added: “Some people will like to see Mumbles remain as a retirement village. I think others want to see it developed.”

He said Mumbles and the nearby area had lost at least 10 hotels over the last decade, and that he was worried about the Welsh Government’s intervention given a previous case when a golf resort planned in the north of Swansea hit the bunker when three Assembly Members called it in.

Committee members felt the detailed Mumbles application before them was better than the outline one, and praised council officers for their part in the process.

Earlier, objectors urged the committee not to approve the plans, saying parking would be a major problem and claiming that the boundary map denoting the Gower Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that the authorities had been using was inaccurate.

Objector Michael Eames said: “I pray you get this right. Failure to do so could have a catastrophic impact on Mumbles, possibly the whole of Swansea.”

A fellow objector said the boundary was “a serious legal matter” and that independent, expert advice was needed.

“This is not a publicity stunt,” she said. “What matters here is the message you send with this vote.”

The council has insisted the boundary map is accurate and that the application had been assessed on the impact on the AONB regardless of whether the development lay within it or next to it.

Planning consultant Geraint John, on behalf of applicant and pier owner Ameco, said the AONB matter had been “properly and thoroughly considered”.

He felt the objectors “seek to make a point where there is none”, and added: “There will inevitably be some local effects on the landscape; these need to be balanced against the social and economic benefits of the scheme.”

After the meeting a spokesman for Ameco, which is restoring the pier, said it was very pleased with the outcome.

“We have worked in partnership with Swansea Council to deliver a sustainable future for Mumbles Pier,” he said.

“We now wait to see if the Welsh Government shares their vision for a brighter way forward for the region.”