PROPOSALS to upgrade the car park, toilets and access to the beach at Port Eynon could be scaled up to include a new brasserie-style restaurant, tourist accommodation and retail units.
Architects commissioned by Swansea Council have been examining how to improve facilities at the Gower holiday spot while gauging the appetite for more commercial development.
Niall Maxwell, of the Rural Office for Architecture, told a council-led committee that opinion was divided on how far the brief’s commercial ambition should go.
“We’ve had a lot of feedback from the village – some of it incredibly positive, a lot of it challenging and anxious about what future development may mean,” he said.
There were “very opposite views”, he said, on what people felt was appropriate development.
Mr Maxwell said the brief was looking at community aspects, tourism, commercial, and travel and transport.
Slides displayed at the Gower AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) Partnership Steering Group meeting showed a re-formatted main car park, with vehicles turning into it well before they reached the seafront.
Motorists currently drive to the seafront roundabout and take two right turns to access the car park. The proposed layout would allow the section of road leading down to the seafront to be pedestrianised.
New public toilets and storage space for organisations such as the RNLI and local clubs are also proposed, along with a playground and a more attractive walkway onto the beach.
New retail units and tourist accommodation could potentially be added parallel to the road which leads to the seafront, plus a two-storey restaurant and cafe where the current toilet block is.
Mr Maxwell said his firm’s brief had evolved but that he hoped to conclude it this week, prior to designing a scheme by early May for consideration.
He said: “As we have been appointed by Swansea Council, it is up for them to instruct us as to what they want us to be developing from these proposals.”
Steering group member Steve Heard, who also represents Port Eynon Community Council, said there was “great concern” among residents about the level of change suggested.
“I don’t know how you are going to deal with the traffic, particularly if you are making it (Port Eynon) a destination,” he said.
Mr Maxwell said this was why travel and transport had become one of the key areas of focus, adding that the council was looking into how and where buses would turn.
Mr Heard said other villages in Gower, like Rhossili, might seek similar developments to that proposed in Port Eynon.
“We are going to lose Gower as it actually is,” he said.
Chris Lindley, the council’s AONB team leader, said the authority would be looking for revenue from any development to maintain the area.
“What’s the best balance? That’s what we are trying to grapple with. I think everyone agrees that the current condition of the facilities down there is not acceptable and needs to change.
“For that change to happen, we have to have an investment in that and some sort of way of paying for its upkeep.”
Mr Heard said he felt the council would find the upkeep money if it was a city centre scheme, and claimed the authority had not taken Gower “as a point of priority”.
Another steering group member, John France, suggested that the council could alleviate the village’s pinch-points and parking problems by issuing temporary parking permits on fields above it.
Another member, Cllr Mark Child, said most people liked to sit beside the sea and have a meal when they went on holiday.
He said: “There is definitely commercial appeal in that restaurant on the seafront – there is no doubt about that.”
Cllr Child asked if the village could benefit by running the serviced accommodation if it was built.
He also described the current beach access as “absolutely dire.”