FOUR plots of grassland on Swansea’s pristine seafront have been earmarked for development.
The move would potentially change the entire landscape of Swansea Bay for visitors and residents.
The land sits between the beach and Oystermouth Road on the picturesque six mile stretch of land which links the city with Mumbles, providing idyllic views of the bay and Devon on the horizon.
A further plot has been earmarked for development in nearby Langland.
The council claim land could be developed to improve the city’s appeal for tourists and residents.
But any development could be met with sceptism and concerns over impact on the natural beauty of the area – specifically the coastal views.
The council-owned sites are the car park at the bottom of Sketty Lane, the Blackpill Lido, land around the skate ramp at West Cross, land at the Mumbles side of The West Cross Inn, and two tennis courts at Langland.
Council chiefs said they were starting with a blank piece of paper, but that no high-rise developments would be considered.
They are seeking expressions of interest from potential commercial partners, and do not intend to sell the sites.
In tandem, a public consultation is getting under way to ask residents how they think the areas could best be used in the future.
Councillor Robert Francis-Davies, cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, said: “The public continually tell us that there should be more facilities along the seafront and especially on the promenade between the city centre and Mumbles.
“For instance, they regularly mention attractions such as coffee shops, restaurants and other leisure facilities.
“Business is clearly of the same opinion as we had enormous interest when we marketed the lease of the former 360 beachfront café (at St Helen’s) last year.”
The Labour councillor encouraged businesses and residents to express their views.
“Their ideas could help see the promenade become much more of an attraction, maintaining its beauty and environmental integrity,” he said.
Cllr Francis-Davies stressed that no decisions had been taken, that revenue from any future developments would be reinvested in council services, and that the interests of businesses would not come before those of residents.
The previous Liberal Democrat-led administration explored the idea of developing some sites along the seafront a decade ago, but little materialised as the financial crash struck and planning issues emerged.
The current Labour group has made no secret of disposing of assets to plug budget shortfalls – and is currently seeking a commercial partner to restore and develop its Home Farm depot at Singleton Park.
Conservative councillor Will Thomas, whose Newton ward covers Langland, claimed the Labour administration was conducting a “land grab” with its latest proposals.
Cllr Thomas said: “The (seafront) sites advertised adjacent to Mumbles Road are a huge asset to Swansea. Part of the tourist appeal is the experience of the view whilst approaching Mumbles.
“Develop these sites and you kill the very reason to visit.”
He was more open to the Langland proposal.
Cllr Francis-Davies rejected the land grab claim.
“It’s about how we enhance the bay,” he said.
He also said the Labour administration would not be disposing of assets generally if it had not had to deal with a decade of Tory Government austerity.
The council has separately allocated £16 million to date to bring forward plans for the new indoor arena by the LC, although this has come from the capital budget, not the budget which funds day-to-day services.
“We have got ambitions for Swansea,” said Cllr Francis-Davies. “We cannot sit back and do nothing.”
Opposition leader Chris Holley said redeveloping the Sketty Lane car park and enhancing Blackpill Lido – potentially by covering it with a large bubble for year-round use – could be worthwhile.
But the Lib-Dem councillor said he would be concerned about developing any land between Blackpill and Mumbles, as car parking space would be needed and because the council had knocked buildings down there when it acquired seafront land in the 1970s.