Car Parks and Recreation

Here’s a round-up of some of the more significant recent planning applications in Bridgend county over the last couple of weeks.

A Welcome Break for Sarn

 

As many of you might know, Welcome Break’s Sarn Park services are run down, outdated, not highly-rated (definitely worth reading the “Dale” story) and probably don’t leave a good impression on visitors coming to Bridgend. I’d image most will travel the extra few hundred metres to McArthur Glen.

The Sarn Park site was picked out for mixed use development in the Local Development Plan and the owners have put forward proposals for a major redevelopment of the service area .

The current hexagonal terrapins will be demolished and replaced with an expanded coach and HGV park, with enough spaces for 10 coaches and 30 HGVs. The petrol station is remain pretty much as-is,  with improved landscaping and a recladding.

The service station amenities themselves will be housed in a brand new, fully-enclosed glass and steel building on the current HGV park to the north east of the site. It’ll include a WH Smiths outlet, games area, improved toilet facilities, a Starbucks “drive thru” and sit-down outlet as well as a Burger King restaurant.

Anyone for Tennis?

 

It looked like it was dead, but Island Farm has kicked into life with a planning application submitted for an indoor-outdoor tennis centre and gym. If approved it would be the first part of a whole scale – and highly controversial – redevelopment of Island Farm for a sports village and science park extension.

The application was submitted by prominent local landowners, the Hegarty family, via their property company HD Ltd and construction would be expected to start in 2015. The development includes:

  • 7 indoor tennis courts
  • 12 outdoor tennis courts
  • 8 squash courts
  • 140 car parking space
  • A gym (on the first floor)
  • Retail, cafe, conference and office space

The roof will be made of translucent silicon and the building will be at least part-powered by solar panels. The proposed building looks very impressive indeed.
If constructed it would probably be the most modern tennis centre in Wales – comparable with facilities in Swansea and Wrexham – and comes hot on the heels of Tennis Wales trying to get Virgin Active to reopen the Wales National Tennis Centre in Cardiff.

You’ve got to assume that Island Farm will be a replacement (it’s being titled “Wales National Tennis Academy”) – with the implicit backing of Tennis Wales and the Lawn Tennis Association. It certainly looks like it’s been designed to be something more than just for locals.

Both Bridgend Town Council (pdf) and Merthyr Mawr Community Council (pdf) have objected to the development for several reasons, which include:

  • Lack of details of proposed roadworks along the A48.
  • Lack of details in terms of the business case (expected attendances etc.) and environmental impact.
  • Concerns that the development could impact Island Farm’s LDP allocation as a “special employment site”.

You’ve also got to wonder whether Bridgend Tennis Club will decamp to this facility, and that could mean that the tennis club at Newbridge Fields will be sold off for development.

This one might be worth coming back to in a more detailed blog at a later date.

More houses (….take three guesses where)

 

An outline planning application has been submitted for 220 homes on land next to the A4061“New Road” near Brackla Industrial Estate and to the “back” of the Princess of Wales Hospital.

This land was part of the parcel sold to the controversial Guernsey-based South Wales Land Developments, and has a surprisingly chequered planning history.

Tesco had an unsuccessful (and long-running) attempt to build a superstore and petrol station there circa 2000-2003. Then, it was shortlisted as a potential stadium site for the Celtic Crusaders rugby league side in 2009 (as a rival to the Island Farm Sports Village). In 2010-2011, the Welsh Government drafted a plan which earmarked the site for an office and mixed use development.

All that’s gone out the window. It’s a real shame because it would’ve been a great site for a bioscience park as it’s so close to the hospital. So the only option left is to build houses on it.

I would have concerns. I walk around there every now and again and the land is quite boggy. Although this isn’t a detailed planning application, to prevent groundwater flooding I would expect it to need some sort of pond/lake to store water from the Morfa Brook drainage basin – which has been concreted over by the A4061 and Parc Derwen.

I’ll stick my neck out and predict that this (along with the proposals at Wyndham Close) will probably be the last major housing development in Brackla, bringing an end to 35+ years of constant housebuilding. After all, it’s unlikely the old railway line at Waunscil Avenue will ever be developed and there’s hardly any open space left elsewhere on the estate.

Vibrant & Viable Bridgend underway?

 

I round off with another Hegarty family development.

It might be dull in itself, but it could signify the start of the Vibrant and Viable Places “Rhiw Gateway” scheme – the final details of which are yet to be outlined by Bridgend Council.

HD Ltd propose to demolish the JP Board Seat car dealership opposite Wilkinsons on the Rhiw junction. I walked passed there the other day and it’s vacant. HD Ltd will replace it with a surface and (small) underground car park totalling 50 spaces. It’ll probably be temporary until another use can be found for the site, and the applicant is willing for it to only be used as a car park for a maximum of 5 years.

Flattening the site it key, because it’s long been said/claimed that a department store could go there. The site’s perfect as it’s slap bang in the middle of the town centre.

The JP Board building is something of an eyesore, admittedly, but I suppose it’s a landmark too in a way and it’ll be strange not having it there. BCBC and any interested developers will really have to come up with something special for the site to prevent it feeling “empty”.  There’ll be more from me on that once any plans are put forward.

Owen