Mumbles Pier Project

 Any Questions?

The following are all questions which have been raised by members of the public during the exhibition, consultation stages and in recent weeks. They are in no particular order.  If you have a query not covered by this list, please send it to mail@whiterock-wales.com

We will answer directly and put the question & response here. All correspondence received is treated in confidence.

 
 What is the link between the pier and the development?

The scale of foreshore development is based on the sum needed to restore the pier. The pier owners are not developers; they are a family firm who want to invest in the future of the area. Their aim is to recycle the proceeds from land-sales into funding the restoration project. It is the estimated amount needed to do this work, less site preparation and planning costs, which will determine the eventual size & scale of the development scheme.

If the project is limited in size to a single storey then there would not be sufficient cash generated to restore the aging pier. This was specifically recognised by Swansea Council in planning guidelines published in 2009. 


 How much will it cost to rebuild the pier?

The latest estimates from independent assessors is that it will cost just over £3 million to restore the Grade II listed structure using modern, anti-corrosive materials and to a specification which retains as many original features aspossible. Annual repairs which presently run to about £30,000 a year no longer go beyond making key sections of the Victorian structure open to the public. Even then there are significant health and safety issues to be overcome. Engineering consultants recommend a full replacement of the steel superstructure and decking. (Note: The pier was closed to the public at the end of the 2011 season)

The RNLI intend to rebuild the pier end to accommodate a new multi-million pound lifeboat house. Their involvement reduces the cost burden falling to the pier owners but it still means they must find a substantial amount from their development scheme.


 Why not get a grant?

When the restoration project was originally proposed, privately-owned piers were not eligible for grant aid from sources such as the Heritage Lottery Fund or Welsh Assembly Government. The owners, who are a local family firm, therefore needed to find a commercial solution. The rules have since been modified but some £500,000 had already been spent on working up the proposals. The commercial option remained the most robust with proceeds form foreshore & headland land sales going into funding for a restoration project.


 Won’t a six-storey hotel change Mumbles headland?

Whilst the hotel development will be sited at the headland, the tiered, curved configuration is designed to blend into existing landscape contours. An assessment package which accompanies the planning application includes visualisations that show the level of impact from onshore locations. Samples of these are shown in the Before and After section.

For the avoidance of any doubt, there are no plans to blast into the Headland. Besides causing significant safety problems and possible site destabilisation, it would not be acceptable on environmental grounds. There is no reference to blasting in any documentation or statements provided by AMECO Ltd and it is wilfully misleading for anyone to suggest otherwise.


► Doesn't this scheme go against local planning policies?

In 2009, Swansea Council adopted a published Development Framework and issued Supplementary Planning Guidance.

This guidance must be taken into consideration by a planning applicant along with current planning policies. In the case of Mumbles Pier and Foreshore, the planning guidance document agrees the overall principle of development but states what type is acceptable and what is not. This has been done by dividing the site into areas (Coastal Strip, Headland and Pier) and specifying what kind of development would be allowed in each area, e.g. residential, hotel, restaurant, etc. The guidance also spells out obligations towards environmental safeguards and other responsibilities.

Note: Planning consents for the pier reconstruction and lifeboat house were approved in April 2011. Outline consent for the foreshore development was granted in June 2011 (finalised in December 2011). The application was acknowledged as a 'departure' from the existing Unitary Development Plan (UDP). The Welsh Government however declined to exercise its powers to intervene.


 What’s happening to the lifeboat?

The RNLI plan to operate a new larger Tamar-class lifeboat at Mumbles by 2015. It will be housed in a brand new modern lifeboat house to be built at the end of the pier. The existing lifeboat house will be retained and possibly used as a landing platform for visiting pleasure craft. We hope to give more information on this aspect as work progresses.


 What about the local ecology?

An extensive range of ecological surveys has been carried out by independent assessors who have looked at the potential effect on wildlife habitats and protected species within the site and its surroundings. Little adverse impact is anticipated other than during the construction period. New nesting perches have been provided in areas unaffected by construction work. These are already well used (images).

Proposals, which will be fully reviewed by the local planning authority, include appropriate mitigation measures and an Ecological Management Plan to safeguard existing habitats and look at enhancing local biodiversity once the site is fully operational.


 Do we need another hotel?

The project includes a new hotel on the headland. Our own commissioned market research tells of a net loss of over 400 bed spaces in Mumbles and Gower. The inclusion of a 4 star resort hotel within the development is intended to enhance the area and help restore Mumbles as a regional tourist & visitor destination. This has been widely welcomed by businesses in the locality.


► What guarantee is there that the pier will be re-built?

Besides being a condition attached to planning consent, there is a legal commitment that the pier will be rebuilt in conjunction with the RNLI and to a timescale which meets their operational deadline. AMECO will use private borrowing to finance its contribution and repay loans using proceeds from selling foreshore land holdings for development.


 Is this going to be a green design development?

Most definitely. Whilst the final designs will be the responsibility of the developers, we expect that it will follow our suggestion to make extensive use of glass and reflective materials, given that the development is north-facing. The scheme’s projected energy rating is recognised as exceptional and considered an example of good practice in environmental design.


 What kind of consultation has been carried out?

A pre-application exhibition was held at the pier in June 2010. This received a good response. Visitors were invited to give their postcodes and we recorded that some 62% of those who viewed the proposals live within a 2.5 mile radius of the development site. This information is included in the planning application.

The exhibition was publicised in the South Wales Evening Post & Western Mail and also in BBC Wales & ITV Wales news bulletins.

The proposals have also been the subject of two successive consultation exercises in 2009 by Swansea Council. These dealt with the contents of a Development Framework which set outs land uses for the site. The pier owners gave a presentation to the Mumbles Development Trust and have attended several other public meetings.

Since planning consent was granted, pier owners AMECO Ltd have also ensured that the local community has been kept informed on progress through various press articles and publications - such as this website.


 Isn’t the development inside the Gower’s AONB?

The site is actually on the fringes of the Gower Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). This was recognised in 2009 when the principle of development and potential land uses were approved by Swansea Council. The Council consulted widely with environmental & statutory bodies prior to adopting a Development Framework as Supplementary Planning Guidance.


 What about rights of way?

There are established rights of way across the site. These will be safeguarded by the development. Improved access and an expanded public realm are very much a part of the overall scheme. The pier site now includes a section of the Wales Coastal Path.

 

 Will common land be affected?

The original scheme included a small proportion of common land needed for additional car-parking (at the Big Apple location). This is no longer required for the hotel development option. If the alternative residential scheme is implemented then only impact is easement (access) across the small strip of common land. The owners will make provision to comply with all statutory requirements. 

 

► Won’t the hotel development cast a shadow?

Not at all, the site faces north-west and the tiered design of the hotel building will ensure that the entire site, along with the south beach, continues to enjoy day-long sunshine.