South Wales Evening Post - 7 August 2012

Barge in place to revamp Mumbles boathouse 

BARGE ahoy! The view of Mumbles Pier looks a little different today.

A sturdy-looking construction barge is now in place as multi-million pound work to replace the RNLI lifeboat house enters a new phase.

Preliminary work has been going on there since the end of June.

But the public will see much more activity now as the "jack-up" barge, which was towed across Swansea Bay yesterday, is used to remove sections of the pier ahead of new piling work.

Meanwhile, pier-owning firm Ameco has said its two foreshore sites, earmarked for flats and a hotel, will be marketed next month.

The RNLI-commissioned work will result in a new boathouse and slipway for its new Tamar class lifeboat, which is bigger and faster than the current Tyne class vessel.

The £9.5 million project is set to take 18 months.

A spokeswoman for the charity reiterated that the scheme presented a big challenge, courtesy of the bay's large tidal range, among other factors.

The boathouse, she said, would remain within the footprint of the 114-year-old pier, which has listed status.

An Ameco spokesman said the firm was delighted the partnership scheme with the RNLI had reached this significant stage.

"We have worked for six years to get to this point," he said. "It means a lot to see all the planning and effort finally come to fruition."

The Tamar class lifeboat is 16 metres long with a 25-knot top speed. Many of its functions can be controlled remotely by the crew from their seats. Other features include a design that reduces the impact on the crew as the lifeboat negotiates waves.

The first Tamar vessel went on station at Tenby six years ago.

Ameco has said the sale of the two foreshore sites will be used to restore the stem of the pier.

The sites have outline planning permission for 27 waterside apartments, plus an 80-bedroom hotel and residential complex on Mumbles headland.

An Ameco spokesman said interest from potential developers had grown since planning consent was granted last year.

"Market trends show Mumbles waterfront properties continue to outstrip prices in the rest of the region," he said.

Ameco plans to start refurbishing the pier stem — the main length of the pier — working from the seaward end towards the shore, early next year.

This £2.5 million project will see the stanchions remain but the superstructure and decking replaced.

The scheme includes a bigger boardwalk area at the shore end of the pier, and is set to be completed by the end of 2013.