South West Wales

Hotel 'only way' to develop Mumbles pier

Mumbles Pier
Image caption The pier's owners say around £3m is needed to restore the landmark

The owners of Mumbles Pier are warning the only way they can afford to restore the Swansea landmark is by developing a hotel and apartments on the foreshore.

They said grant funding was not available and it was the "only way" to fund the restoration.

The plans have divided opinion, with a petition signed by more than 1,000 people against it, and an online campaign backed by 1,750 in support.

A public meeting is taking place at 1900 GMT at the Ostreme Centre.

The 1898 pier last underwent extensive restoration in the 1950s.

It has been owned by the Bollom family for 70 years.

Two planning applications have been submitted which will be determined in the new year.

One is for the virtual rebuilding of the pier - put at a cost of about £3m - with a new RNLI lifeboat house that will be home to a Tamar class lifeboat.

The other is for a £39m visitor and tourist destination including a hotel, apartments and restaurant, as well as a leisure and retail development.

Managing director John Bollom said they would be making a presentation about their plans at the meeting.

"We think it is important for people to understand that our scheme is intended to comply with a vision for Mumbles which was set out in some detail by Swansea council," he said.

Image caption It is the plans to develop the foreshore that have divided opinion

"In the absence of grant assistance, developing the foreshore is the only way now available to restore the pier and give this area a much needed boost as a tourist destination."

A petition expressing concern that the scheme would lead to the over-development of the headland has been submitted to Swansea council.

It has also brought an objection from the Open Spaces Society.

A spokeswoman said it would be "damaging and intrusive" on the edge of the Gower Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

"The exquisite coastline of Wales should be celebrated and enjoyed for its natural beauty, not developed as an amusement park," she added.

Malcolm Ridge of the Gower Society said it fully supported the restoration of the pier but had concerns about the scale of the foreshore development.

"It seems to us while a small scale development might do, this development is overly large and to some extent goes against the policies of the city council," he explained.

A Facebook campaign supporting the development was started by Lee Woodman, who manages the tourism website.

"The real losers if this scheme does not proceed will be the local Mumbles economy which has suffered many casualties during the recession," he said.

Mr Woodman said the number of people searching for Mumbles online had fallen by 20% comparing August 2007 to the same month in 2010.

"The pier is a great opportunity to add a cutting edge development to a sea side town desperately in need of attention," he added.

County councillor Anthony Colburn, who has organised Monday's meeting, said he hoped it would avoid any misinformation being circulated about the applications.

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