We welcome the Council’s invitation to people to submit ideas on how to make the most of the fantastic promenade we have in Swansea between the marina and Mumbles Head. It is a great natural asset, and the more people that enjoy it the better. However, we will focus our comments on those sites that are within the Mumbles Community Council area – namely Blackpill Lido, Mayals; Land around the Skate Ramp, West Cross; Land on the Mumbles side of the West Cross Inn, West Cross; Part of the Langland tennis courts still managed by Swansea Council, Newton.
MCC is committed to ensuring that all future development in Mumbles supports the Sustainable Development principles of the Well-being for Future Generations Act. We aim to align our future plans with the Well-being goals to promote a more Prosperous, Resilient, Healthier, Equal and Cohesive Community and this response reflects that aim. Our new 5 – 10 year Community Plan for the MCC area will provide us with a roadmap for future development and strongly supports the sustainable development principles.
MCC is passionate about protecting all green space and particularly that between Mumbles Road and the sea and the preservation of the character of the journey between Mumbles and Blackpill providing unique, prestigious and beautiful views out over the bay, often through trees. Indeed, it is one of the iconic views of Swansea. There is no such things as an individual right to a view, however the public view does have value in planning terms, and this has been enforced in various planning appeals over the years. To substantially build on this current open space, which is attractive in its own right and gives access to vistas across the bay to Mumbles, Swansea and beyond would be almost certainly be determined as detrimental to the public enjoyment.
This does not mean we are against any change. We can see potential for new or enhanced facilities that would not disrupt the views, such as the Skatepark that MCC is proposing to replace the current skate ramp and which has garnered overwhelming support, or pop-up or mobile catering outlets – although we would not see burger type vans as appropriate. We have many local, ethically sourced food outlets who would welcome the opportunity to showcase their produce. We are actively seeking ways to encourage more active travel with the provision of the Santander bike hub, a bike shelter and water refill stations and there is real potential for improving bike and pedestrian access along the prom by widening the pathways and making a safer separation between bikes and pedestrians. There could also be potential for increasing the frequency of the Land Train and extending it to weekends throughout the year with additional stops at key points such as the skatepark along the way. We would support changes that increased the quality of the views, the facilities available to people enjoying the promenade, and actions to increase accessibility and active leisure in this area.
- We would support widening the path or separating it in to two paths to avoid the occasional clashes between pedestrian and cyclists
- Sensitive lighting of the promenade would increase its use by walkers, joggers and cyclists in the evening and early morning, particularly in winter. This lighting could be time limited, say come on at 06:00 in the morning and off no later than 00:00 at night. It would be solar powered so requiring no ground works; it could be movement sensitive, so only come on when people are passing. It should also be low level, shining on the path, and not high level lighting up a wider area.
- Other facilities such as a drinking fountain for runners and cyclists, and something for dogs too would be welcome as would additional public toilets set between Blackpill and Oystermouth Square. The current distance between these facilities is considerable, particularly for elderly people.
- MCC has already provided outdoor gym equipment and outdoor chess tables along the prom and additional sculptures, exercise equipment, interactive play equipment and chess tables would all provide interest.
- The skate ramp has proved a very welcome facility, encouraging young people to be active in the open air. Acts of vandalism have been rare and minor, and many people have had great enjoyment over the years. Replacing the skate ramp with a new world class skatepark that is fully wheelchair accessible and provides facilities for BMX bikes and skateboarders of all ages and all levels will not only be a fantastic asset for Mumbles residents but will attract visitors from far and wide to the area and boost the local economy and that of Swansea. Extensive consultation with residents and the wider community has been overwhelmingly positive and thorough research has confirmed this site as the most appropriate for accessibility, noise reduction and safe usage for all ages.
- Other facilities such as a basketball hoop or outdoor table tennis, sensitively sited, may well be appropriate too
- There may also be sites suitable for pop-up food outlets, not burger vans, but local, ethically sourced food, encouraging healthy eating and using recyclable and degradable packaging along the lines of the successful seafood shack at Southend Gardens
- Additional tree planting would enhance the area. The most iconic view is through the pine trees towards Mumbles. More pine trees on patches where there are few or none currently would add to the beauty of this area. It is also a concern that many of the trees are of a similar age and so may die at a similar time. With no younger ones being planted, the view may go for future generations. We feel that despite the criminal damage that has occurred to trees, particularly new trees, there is a duty to do all we can to plant more so the views are protected, enhanced and expanded
- The Santander Bike Hub at Southend has already proved to be a huge success with around 90% usage in the first week alone. An additional bike hub, perhaps near the West Cross Inn or at Blackpill would be welcomed
- Enhancing the children’s play area at Blackpill to provide year-round facilities such as indoor soft play, toddler bikes and scooters
- Providing complementary leisure and exercise facilities at Langland Tennis Courts. MCC has an agreement to lease three of the tennis courts and two of those will be refurbished in the near future. While our preferred option is still to lease all six courts and provide mixed use games areas as well as tennis, we could envisage alternatives such as a gym, spa, exercise studios, training/storage facilities for surfing and other watersports, lockers, improved toilets with changing facilities and showers
In all cases we would expect full community consultation on any plans.
Alongside the type of additions and changes we may support, there are others that we would not support, and that we would expect to be vigorously opposed by the majority of our residents and more widely. As already stated, the seafront along Swansea Bay is a fantastic asset and because of this, it is much valued by many people.
- We would Strongly oppose any plans for housing, flats, or any other type of accommodation. This would be denying the public an element of the great views and active leisure opportunities for the benefit of a few very rich people.
- Blackpill, the areas around West Cross Inn and Langland Tennis Courts are already well served by cafes, bars and restaurants, including The Junction, West Cross Inn, Ripples and Oyster Wharf right on the seafront along the Prom, and Langlands Brasserie, Surfside Café, Rotherslade Café and the Hole in the Wall at Langland, with local shops at Blackpill, West Cross and Mumbles Village. Additional catering or retail outlets at any of these locations would not only significantly and adversely change the nature of the promenade but be detrimental to already established businesses.
- Parking can be an issue locally, particularly at big events like the Air Show and the Raft Race, which lead residents of streets adjacent to Mumbles Road to request and sometimes acquire restrictions on parking or access. However, we do not believe changing any of this area, or anywhere else locally including Mumbles Road Tennis Courts, to car parking is the answer. As referred to already, MCC is committed to promoting active travel including better public transport, cycling and walking, and to reducing car use.
In summary, we agree that the Promenade along Swansea Bay is a fantastic asset for Swansea, its residents and visitors. We agree that there may be many ways that the promenade could be improved to support a healthier, sustainable and enjoyable asset for residents and visitors, and welcome Swansea Council seeking ideas. We hope you find our ideas useful. We also hope that in recognising its value, the Council realises that the construction of any commercial or residential buildings, for whatever purpose, would likely be detrimental to this asset.