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Agenda Item No. 6

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment): 14th April 2015

 

Report of the Director of Development Services

 

Barry Island Regeneration and Enhancement Programme and Beach Huts Policy

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To provide an overview of progress in regeneration activity to Barry Island and to provide an update on the development of an appropriate Beach Huts Policy, following consideration of the matter by Scrutiny Committee on 20th May 2014.

Recommendation

1.         That the report be noted and that a further report be provided, in due course, regarding the operation and management of the Eastern Promenade beach huts following the first season's "pilot" operation.

Reason for the Recommendation

1.         In order to keep Scrutiny appraised of progress.

Background

2.         Members will be aware that following the bid submission made by the Vale of Glamorgan Council in February 2013, the Welsh Government approved a first tranche of grant funding for the Barry Island Urban Realm Programme amounting to £632,000 in March of that year.  That grant allocation was to cover the costs associated with the delivery of the capital works to provide a "meanwhile use" car park and events space at Nell's Point and the consultancy/design fees associated with the development of the remainder of the Urban Realm Programme across the Island.  On 18th June 2013 a further report was provided to the Barry Regeneration Area Board giving an estimated breakdown of costs associated with the various elements of the programme and recommending that the rest of the funding be allocated to allow urgent progression of the scheme.  That recommendation was accepted and a second grant approval was provided by Welsh Government on 17th July 2013 bringing the level of grant support up to £3,300,000.

3.         The bid submitted sought approval for a suite of improvements across the wider Barry Island resort area to include public realm improvements and improvements to Maslin Park. However the majority of the activity concentrated on the area of the Eastern Promenade and an intention to dramatically improve the appearance and attraction of that area as a contextual development in support of the Council's intentions to market both the Nell's Point site and the site of former conveniences located alongside it (those sites where marketed in September 2013 and a report was brought to Cabinet in March 2014 indicating that no acceptable bids had been received.  The sites are to be marketed again in April 2015).

4.         In addition, Members will recall my report of the 20th May 2014 relating to the Beach Huts Rental Policy.  That report provided detail as to the number of beach huts, their siting and proposals for rental.  For completeness, the report is attached at Appendix A and also via the following link http://www.valeofglamorgan.gov.uk/en/our_council/council/minutes,_agendas_and_reports/reports/scrutiny_ee/2014/14-05-20/Beach-Huts.aspx.  Members will note that the report provided details as to the proposed opening hours and procedures for making bookings via the Call Centre.  The recommendations of Scrutiny Committee included the need to produce a rental policy document to include aspects referred to in that report.  It was also minuted that a report be presented to Scrutiny Committee and Cabinet following the close of the season on the operation of the policy.

Relevant Issues and Options

5.         The report will review briefly the work undertaken as part of the regeneration scheme.

6.         Nell's Point Car park. A specialist contractor was appointed to commence the initial site clearance in early May 2013. A separate Planning Application for the main construction works was also submitted and was determined by the Planning Committee on the 6th June 2013 following site inspection and was approved subject to conditions relating to time period of approval, landscaping and construction methodology.  The second stage construction works progressed through to mid July and the scheme provides some 550 car parking spaces and events area (the latter increasing the car parking available when not in use to circa 610 spaces).  Since completion the car park has proven to be extremely popular given its proximity to the beach and the easy access created by the Eastern Promenade scheme.

7.         Maslin Park.  The Council's Landscape Team managed the procurement and implementation exercise relating to the improvements to Maslin Park, and following approval to use Council funding (Barry Regeneration Area Project Development Fund) the contract with Wicksteed Leisure Limited was agreed and works commenced on site with a programme that ran through until late October 2013. The play area has proven to be extremely popular with local residents.

8.         Eastern Promenade. The procurement and appointment of both consultancy support to develop the Eastern Promenade scheme and a main contractor to undertake the works was taken forward after the July 2013 agreement of grant by the Welsh Government and works commenced on site in early November 2013.

9.         The Eastern Promenade scheme involved the following works (in brief):

- The refurbishment of the Eastern Shelter to include structural repairs, a new lighting scheme and waterproofing.

- The provision of new surfacing to the Eastern Promenade

- The provision of new pedestrian linkages from the Eastern promenade to the Nell's Point car park, the Eastern Shelter roof and to the Clement Colley Way footpath with ramped access to the vantage points and the new canopy covered amphitheatre.

- A new landscaping scheme incorporated into the works to create pleasant footways and seating locations above the Eastern Shelter.

- The provision of new toilet facilities in the former "Toy Factory"/ changing rooms.

- New artwork in the form of the Eastern Shelter lighting scheme produced by the artist Peter Fink together with the "Barry Island/ Ynys Y Barri" traversing wall created by the artist Gordon Young and a mist producing water feature designed internally. The John Clinch "Beside the Sea" artwork on the causeway was also refurbished as part of the works programme by the artist Sebastien Boyeson and grant support of £50,000 was received from the Arts Council for Wales in support of the art.

- A range of beach huts (25 in total, of two different sizes with the larger ones providing power) were constructed.

- A new improved access from the promenade to the beach was also provided as part of the scheme to provide for more direct access to the eastern part of Whitmore Bay.

10.      The Eastern Promenade suffered from delays with a variety of causes and both officers and Members were insistent that the scheme should not achieve handover until various quality related issues were rectified.  Final handover was achieved in December 2014.  The opening of the scheme and its impact has already generated a significant amount of coverage in the press and on social media and it is expected to have an impact upon both visitor numbers and length of stay of such visitors in the coming summer season.

11.      Beach Hut Policy. A "pilot" proposal for the operational management and rental of the beach huts constructed at the site was discussed by the Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment) in May 2014.  Options for managing the units had been considered and included:

·           Selling the units on the open market.

·           Marketing the opportunity of managing the units by a third party, or,

·           The Council marketing and managing the units itself.

12.      The preference was for the Council to retain the units and control their marketing and rental itself as this would allow complete control of the uses and the flexibility to learn from the pilot project and implement variations to operations in a timely manner.  

13.      The rental policy is attached at Appendix B and it is recommended that the operation of the units be reviewed after the 2015 season. Members will note from Appendix B that the huts are available throughout the year with charges set according to the season.  Hours of availability are also set according to the season. In brief, during the spring and summer huts will be available between 10.00 am to 8.00 pm (extended to 10.00 pm during the July/August schools holidays).  The charges are set at £20 per day for the small huts and £40.00 per day for the larger huts.

14.      The prices are reduced to £15.00 and £30.00 respectively during the Autumn/Winter period with hours of availability restricted from 10.00 am to 18.00 pm.

15.      Advice is included on booking and operating arrangements as shown in Appendix B. This includes arrangements for key collection and timescales for making bookings. The policy also clarifies that same day bookings are available albeit with the daily fees applying.

16.      The policy also makes it clear that the small huts are not available for commercial use, whereas the larger huts are available for commercial purposes (community organisations, schools, traders) at set times of the year.  Set times will be publicised by the Council in advance providing specific mechanisms for booking. This is an area which will require further exploration as there is clearly an opportunity to link the availability of beach huts with specific events such as markets, fairs and festivals.

17.      Members will also note from the policy that the minimum period of booking is by the day with the maximum booking period being one whole week within any calendar month.

18.      A further report will be presented to Scrutiny at the end of the 2015 season to provide information and dates as to the use of the beach huts and to consider whether the policy needs to be reviewed. In addition, data will be available at the meeting on the 14th April 2015 to provide feedback as to their use over the Easter holidays.

19.      From the outset the intention had been to allow some form of community and commercial use to operate from the larger beach huts.  It is initially envisaged that they will be let for this purpose on a number of set dates in the calendar. If demand proves greater than this the policy may be amended.  The intention will be to seek interested parties via on line marketing and, again, offer on a first come first served basis.  Various restrictions will need to operate and, for example, the selling of food would not be permitted.

20.      Information relating to the beach hut rental policy and management issues such as parking arrangements at Nell's Point has been published on the Council's website.

21.      Some initial problems were encountered with vandalism taking place at the scheme. The stolen beach huts numbers have now been replaced and further security bars procured for the beach huts.  A CCTV camera has been installed at the toilet block and a further camera is shortly to be installed at the Eastern Shelter (this was delayed as it required Listed Building Consent).

22.      Barry Island Enhancement Programme. Following on from the completion of the Eastern Promenade works in December 2014 a further review of the original works programme was undertaken.  As a result of this review and following the approval of additional capital programme funding an additional set of works have been undertaken in advance of the summer season.  These works include the painting of the Western Shelter; the painting of the promenade railings; the resurfacing of the area above the Eastern Shelter; the resurfacing of the central promenade footpaths and steps and the provision of new step nosings; the provision of a widened cycleway from Friars point to the Harbour road car park and footpath upgrading close to the Coastal Watch scheme.

23.      Additionally further work was undertaken at Maslin Park with funding being provided to replace the changing rooms in support of the sport and leisure provision at the Park.

24.      The scheme has already resulted in a resurgence of private sector spending at the island and the eastern promenade scheme has been shortlisted for the National RTPI Awards under the Public Realm category.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

25.      As part of the cost estimating maintenance cost issues have been considered along with staffing provision required for managing the public toilets and the beach huts at the eastern promenade.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

26.      As part of the design stages the most sustainable approaches to building and construction methodologies has been considered.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

27.      None.

Crime and Disorder Implications

28.      As part of the continuing review and as a result of the vandalism already seen at site additional security bars for the beach huts have been procured and additional CCTV coverage is being provide along the eastern promenade.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

29.      None

Corporate/Service Objectives

30.      The schemes ties in with the Corporate Plan objectives for the Island as well as the Tourism Policies the Council has in place and the strategy contained in the Destination Management Plan.

Policy Framework and Budget

31.      This is an information report.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

32.      None.

Background Papers

None.

 

Contact Officer:

John Dent, Major Projects Manager - Tel. 01446 704617

 

Officers Consulted

Mike Walsh, Legal Services

Vicky Williams, Finance

Lorna Cross, Group Estates Officer

 

Responsible Officer:

Rob Thomas Director of Development Services

 

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