The Corporate Director – Communities (supported by the Group Manager – Economy, Natural Resources and Sustainability) presented a report, the purpose of which, was to update Cabinet on recent developments in relation to the proposed development of a Maritime Centre on Cosy Corner, Porthcawl; to outline a series of recommendations in relation to taking forward a preferred option for the site and to seek authority for BCBC to submit a funding proposal to Visit Wales.
The Maritime Centre project was developed and was being taken forward by Porthcawl Harbourside Community Interest Company (CIC), which later became Credu Charity Ltd.
It was explained, that BCBC has worked closely with Credu Charity Ltd for many years, to support them to further develop and implement their project. This was a substantial property development proposal by Credu Charity Ltd on Council owned land and officers undertook significant due diligence to ensure lease arrangements were in place to control delivery and ownership of the site. Prior to the agreement for lease being entered into a full risk assessment was undertaken and reported to Cabinet, which included an assessment of the business case and the funding requirements.
Credu Charity Ltd were granted a 3 year lease on part of the site on 16th November 2017 to enable them to set up portacabin showers and toilets, as well as storage shipping containers for displaced groups. On 14th November 2019 Credu Charity Ltd were granted a license to install hoardings and set up a temporary compound. The Council entered into an agreement for lease on 7th November 2019 to provide Credu Charity Ltd with certainty that they could take entry onto the site to carry out the full construction works but only once a number of conditions had been met, including funding and planning. These conditions were never met and the agreement was subsequently terminated and the Council took possession of the site on 9th November 2020.
Officers continued, by advising that on 2nd October 2020 BCBC received formal notification from Welsh Government that the Welsh Ministers gave Credu Charity Ltd notice on the 18th August 2020 of their intention to withdraw further ERDF funding towards the Maritime Centre and to recover the ERDF funding they had already paid to Credu.
As a result of this, BCBC terminated the agreement for lease relating to the Maritime Centre at the Cosy Corner site, as Credu Charity Ltd were unable to satisfy conditions relating to that agreement for lease within an agreed timeframe.
Since this time no work has taken place on Cosy Corner and today it stands as a part completed development site surrounding by hoarding. The site has partially laid foundations and a range of materials left on it. Their removal is being considered at this time and potential implications are being reviewed.
Since serving notice to terminate the agreement for lease and resuming control of the site it has become clear that the site cannot remain in its current condition for any length of time and that significant resources and timely action is required. However, as the proposed Maritime Centre was being taken forward by Credu Charity Ltd, BCBC does not have funding set aside for the remediation of the site and its return to a safe and useable condition.
Visit Wales have since confirmed that as BCBC is already a partner in the TAD programme an opportunity exists to put forward a proposal to potentially access TAD funding. Any funding within the TAD programme must be secured, spent and claimed within a timeframe far shorter than that needed to deliver a project the size of the Maritime Centre. Therefore, officers have started the process of considering options for the future of Cosy Corner with a focus on what may realistically be achieved with possible funding and the time available.
The preferred approach at this time, based on information available, is a two stage process. Stage 1 will take place in the short to medium term and will involve officers submitting proposals to Visit Wales in an effort to secure funding to undertake improvements to part of Cosy Corner. Stage 2 will take place in the medium to longer term and will relate to the part of Cosy Corner not impacted by such proposed improvements. Stage 2 will involve securing a development partner and working with that partner to implement further improvements to Cosy Corner. The land there would remain primarily public realm with substantial community use as well as commercial opportunities. This public realm would provide a mainly open space break between nearby developed zones
In reviewing options for both Stage 1 and Stage 2, the following principles are proposed to be used as a set of guiding principles for the way forward:-
The current possibilities for Stage 1 were as was outlined in paragraph 4.7 of the report.
These options were based on information known at this time, so therefore subject to change and by no means definitive, the Officers added.
The Corporate Director – Communities then gave details of the funding available for the project (which included match funding) and when this funding had to be committed in order to carry out the necessary works at the site.
The Cabinet Member – Education and Regeneration, thanked Officers for the work they had committed to this particular site which was undoubtedly an iconic part of Porthcawl and the South Wales coast and very much part of the wider regeneration proposals that were planned for the town.
He felt that it was unfortunate that Credu Charity Ltd had not delivered in terms of the former Agreement, as they had been supported by the Council with regards to development proposals for the site, from the outset. The site as reflected in the report, would now primarily be used as a public realm area, the Cabinet Member – Education and Regeneration concluded.
The Deputy Leader concurred with the views expressed immediately above. He was disappointed by the fact that the Community Interest Group had not been able to assist in the development of the site thereby facilitating the project. He thanked Officers however, for the time and commitment they had given to this ongoing issue.
Leader concluded debate on the item, by stating that he was pleased to see that as part of the planning proposals for Stage 1, the aspiration was for a changing places facility provided for the public/visitors to the area and the provision of a free public children’s play area within this location, if sufficient funding was available.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet:-
· Noted the recent action by officers in relation to Cosy Corner;
· Approved the principles for considering future action on Cosy Corner as set out in section 4.6 of the report;
· Authorised the Corporate Director - Communities, to develop and submit a proposal to Visit Wales, in agreement with the Section 151 Officer and the Chief Officer, Legal, HR and Regulatory Services, to access possible resources for improvements to Cosy Corner in line with the financial information in section 8.2 of the report;
· Agreed to receive a further report relating to the detail of any funding offer from Visit Wales if successful and, should it be required, recommend to Council an update to the Capital programme.