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Council won’t be selling off ‘family silver’ says cabinet member

SWANSEA Council will “not be selling off the family silver” when it considers the development of seafront sites in the city, a cabinet member has said.

Councillor Robert Francis-Davies said any sites which get taken forward for small-scale development would be leased by the council and not sold.

He was addressing a council scrutiny meeting in which questions were asked about the latest plans for the bottom of Sketty Lane, the Blackpill Lido, and the West Cross skate ramp and Langland tennis court sites.

Most of the meeting focused on Mumbles Community Council plans for a new skate park at the West Cross site, off Mumbles Road, and a Swansea Council recommendation to advertise the two side-by-side tennis courts and adjacent public toilets at Langland for sale or to let on a long lease.

Mumbles Community Council representatives asked if there had been any other interest expressed in the West Cross skate ramp site and said its proposal had significant support.

They also said new traffic measures would be put in place to stop Mumbles Road being used as a drop-off point for skaters – one of the concerns of objectors.

A Swansea Council officer confirmed there had been some interest in the skate ramp site, but nothing specific, and that the lack of toilets and dedicated parking at the proposed skate park would not necessarily result in the application being refused.

Cabinet is, however, being recommended to carry out a due diligence exercise to ensure the proposal is practical and sustainable in the long term.

Mayals councillor Linda Tyler-Lloyd, who is also a Mumbles community councillor, said she had received a “flow” of phone calls and emails from residents about the skate park plan, asking about parking and if it would be safe.

“No-one was against a skate park in the community council area, but they thought it was a bad site,” she said.

“My opinion is that I was deeply uneasy that no other site was allowed to be discussed or considered by Mumbles Community Council at Mumbles Community Council meetings.”

Cllr Tyler-Lloyd called for an independent review to decide where the best location was for a skate park. “We are in a tug of war, with very strong opinions on both sides,” she said.

Community councillor Pam Erasmus said Swansea Council officers had engaged with the community council during the planning application process – and the community council has previously said that other potential sites had been looked into and discounted.

Will Watson, of the Swansea Bay Foreshore Group, said he backed the idea of a skate park but felt the West Cross site was “totally wrong”.

Mr Watson said he believed a skate park would need facilities such as toilets and catering.

He added: “We all love the iconic views in Swansea, and to protect them and at the same time enhance them is very important.”

Councillor Chris Holley said people in Swansea wanted to see better seafront facilities and more toilets, but said public access had to be maintained. He also said none of the sites should be sold.

Cllr Francis-Davies, who is cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, said he agreed.

“The last thing we want to do is spoil anything – but what we want to do is enhance facilities,” he said.

He added that the council nearly always leased land rather then selling it.

“We will not be selling off the family silver here,” he said.

Councillor Will Thomas, whose Newton ward covers Langland – which has six tennis courts – asked why a third tennis court was included in the potential redevelopment proposals.

Cllr Francis-Davies said developers may need the third tennis court to deliver their scheme or to use it as a building compound.

If they didn’t, he said, he would consider handing it over to Mumbles Community Council as part of an asset transfer, on top of the other three courts which are moving to the community council’s ownership.

Cabinet meets on January 9 to consider the next steps for seafront development.

Officers have recommended that potential design briefs are created for the Blackpill Lido and Sketty Lane sites.

A consultation on the proposals over the summer prompted significant public feedback. Cllr Francis-Davies described some of the responses as “downright rude”.

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