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Big ambitions for Burry Port

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Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 13.47.02IT SEEMS that there are grand plans for the estuary town of Burry Port.

The Burry Inlet is a large estuarine complex located between the Gower Peninsula and Llanelli. The site contains the largest continuous area of saltmarsh in Wales (2,200 ha) and regularly supports large numbers of overwintering wildfowl and waders that feed in the saltmarshes and on the intertidal areas.

If you believe internet searches and Council planning announcements, the town and surrounding area is to become a vibrant and modern space in which people can enjoy working, living and playing. An environment where stylish and contemporary office buildings, attractive housing developments, as well as lively restaurants, bars, theatres and a wealth of other cultural and leisure facilities, sit comfortably together around expanses of sparkling water and lush green parkland.

There appear to be ample business opportunities for local people according to one website (llanelli-waterside.co.uk), The Herald discovered via the Swansea Bay Region website, which appears to be owned by Carmarthenshire County Council.

Llanelli Waterside claims that opportunities at Burry Port are diverse: including retail, leisure, commercial, tourism and that they all nestle side by side in this seaside town.

Enviably placed in more ways than one, Burry Port can allow the canny investor to achieve not just a good return but to have a position in one of the most up and coming areas in the UK.

A VIEW FROM ABOVE

The Herald took a morning out of the office to take in the estuary air at Burry Port and visited the prospective sites of Delta Lakes and Burry Port.

Delta Lakes looks like any industrial park dotted around Wales. Grey metal clad buildings within a fenced compound with a variety of small businesses occupying the largely windowless buildings.

The surrounding land and ponds appeared to be supporting a lot of wildlife. However, there was no view from the Delta Lakes estate other than the rising sand dunes and overgrowth which was some height above the proposed development area. A variety of drainage channels ran in all directions and supported reed growth, which one would imagine were doing a grand job of absorbing water. It really is one of natures natural sponges as it stands. As the risk of flooding low lying areas has been thrown in to sharp focus by recent events, this might be a consideration worth taking into account before any future development.

The website details developments at North Dock in Llanelli stating: “At the head of the dock lie the immediate development opportunities suitable for commercial uses such as a café bar, restaurant and a landmark hotel. These will create a lively visual focus from the bridge accessing the dock and generate linkages further west along Llanelli Waterside into the wider leisure and recreation developments at Old Castle Works.”

The website makes it all sound so tempting and to top it all the information states that “Delta Lakes is one of the few sites across South West Wales to be eligible for the South West Wales Property Development Fund. The aim of the Fund is to develop high-quality commercial ‘BREEAM Excellent’ buildings in the region.” There is also the final sales pitch, which should seal it for any canny investor. “The Fund can provide up to 50% of the costs to investors and developers for speculative projects.”

We drove on to Burry Port where a number of small independent shops still line the main high street. The banks have closed but there was a Natwest van in a car park, which appeared to be dispensing money.

The train station is ideally located for those living in the pretty new estates and the old original cottages to commute to where the jobs and universities are located or even jump on and head for the bright lights of London – or even Llanelli.

A BUSY TOWN

There were some empty premises but in general Burry Port was thriving. The website goes on to explain that “Investment has been made in infrastructure and transport to make the area more accessible and now provides perfect access into the Pembrey peninsular which now hosts attractions such as Beach Break Live and Ffos Las racecourse.

The Herald enjoyed the morning out at Burry Port but could no help wondering where the children of the families from all these new homes in the new Carmarthenshire Shangri-La would play football, rugby or cricket. What steps would be taken to ensure those facilities remained for the occupiers of new homes on the old zinc oxide works and the bijou apartments for artisans and craftsmen?

More on that next week, as we interview one lady who is struggling to keep open one of the town’s play areas, even taking home play equipment to fix herself.

We will be looking at whether resources for the existing infrastructure and community notwithstanding, including flood defences, should be prioritised before any new executive developments for the benefit of offshore investors is built.

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£121k watersports funding announced for Llanelli beauty spot

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• Welsh Water, Natural Resources Wales, Llanelli Rural Council & Canoe Wales has secured ‘Access to Water’ funding.

• Visitors will be able to enjoy paddlesports (canoeing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding), windsurfing and angling.

• Site expected to attract 90k+ visitors a year.

The recent announcement of the development of the Swiss Valley reservoirs in Carmarthenshire has been given a boost with the confirmation of an ‘Access to Water’ grant from Welsh Government, worth £121k, that will enable visitor access to the Lower Lleidi reservoir for paddle sports and angling.

The funding will realise plans to bring back a range of paddlesports to the reservoir, including stand-up paddle boarding, canoeing and kayaking.  It will also enable bank angling through the creation of recreational zones.  A range of improvements to the surrounding infrastructure are also planned to include a boat wash for biosecurity and the creation of paths and a pontoon that allows easy access to water for people of all abilities, and the refurbishment of toilet facilities.

Developing the Swiss Valley Reservoirs is expected to attract 90k+ visitors a year to the site, in line with Covid19 regulations. The ‘Access to Water’ funding is an important milestone in achieving shared ambitions for the site, and to support the funding application, a survey of local canoe clubs, outdoor activity providers and anglers was conducted which found a strong demand for access to the water for their activities. The feedback was that this is likely to generate a huge amount of interest from clubs and providers given it’s ideal geographical location. The community adoption scheme means that local people are offering to invest their own time to help look after this jewel of a community asset, and care for it into the future.

The project is well placed to support the delivery of The Wellbeing of Future Generations Act (Wales) 2015, which requires public bodies in Wales to think about the long-term impact of their decisions, to work better with people, communities and each other, and to prevent persistent problems such as poverty, health inequalities and climate change. Whilst Welsh Water is not a public body, it is committed to working in partnership with Llanelli Rural Council, Natural Resources Wales and Canoe Wales in the spirit of the legislation.

Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, said: “This is an excellent example of a scheme which increases opportunities for outdoor recreation and provides safe access to water for people of all abilities.  The development of these reservoirs will enable local people and visitors to gain more enjoyment from this beauty spot in line with covid19 guidelines and help to support a green recovery in Wales.  I hope the success of this project will encourage development of many more similar opportunities over the coming years.”

Welsh Water Chief Executive Peter Perry said, “Access to blue space is proven to be positively associated with health and wellbeing. Swiss Valley is an important asset for the local community and visitors alike. This funding is a major milestone in our efforts to bring this cherished community asset back to its former glory and make it more accessible, for the health and wellbeing of everyone.”

Jen Browning, Chief Executive of Canoe Wales, the national governing body for paddlesport in Wales, added, “Over the past eight months, we have seen an unprecedented amount of demand for canoeing, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding, but the limited number of venues in Wales suitable for new paddlers has always been a major obstacle. This funding will ensure that Swiss Valley can play an enormously important role in making it possible for people of all abilities to enjoy the water, and for many to discover a passion for paddlesport and develop a deep connection with the outdoors.”

Dave MacCallum, Specialist Advisor for Water Access & Recreation at Natural Resources Wales and Chairman of NAFW Access to Water Sub-Group said: “We are delighted to have been a part of this important collaboration which will open up these new waters for responsible, inclusive recreation in South West Wales. NRW is committed to doing all we can to enable more people to enjoy Wales’ countryside more easily and responsibly – to take advantage of the many health and wellbeing benefits that getting outside can bring. Benefitting from bespoke disabled paddle-sport access facilities and a Biosecurity station promoting and enabling the Check Clean Dry initiative, the Swiss Valley reservoir project paves the way for future access to Welsh still waters so that current and future generations can continue to enjoy their visits to some of Wales’ most spectacular landscapes”

Llanelli Rural Council Leader, Cllr Tegwen Devichand said “the funding is marvellous news for the community and will enable the council to develop its plans for the reservoir in earnest. Much of the preliminary work associated with the first phase of infrastructure improvements can now get underway, in fact some work has commenced already. The physical adaptations to refurbish the toilet block, visitor car park and access to the water to facilitate paddle sports and the angling fraternity is scheduled to be completed by March 2021, but work won’t stop there. Moreover, the community response to our plans for the reservoir has been overwhelming; the council has received a great deal of local and regional support and a number of interest groups and individuals have come forward to help us deliver our plans as well as to offer their services. This is greatly appreciated and bodes well for the future.”

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Llanelli Yodel colleague celebrates 30-year anniversary

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Beverley Smith, a valued member of the Llanelli depot’s team, is celebrating her 30-year anniversary with UK independent parcel carrier, Yodel.

Beverley joined Yodel in 1990, when it was originally known as Home Shopping Network, as an Inbound Sorter and then moved onto a Customer Service Support role over 28 years ago. Beverly supports the Llanelli Management Team, provides customer service to clients and customers alike and is always on hand to answer any driver queries.

To celebrate her anniversary, Kay Dodd, Service Centre Manager, presented Beverley with £750 of Very vouchers and ordered in a cooked breakfast to celebrate.

Customer Service Support Advisor, Beverley Smith commented: “My time with Yodel has been very fulfilling – constantly challenging – keeping me on my toes. I’ve been with the company so long that I remember having to write with a pen and paper and have to fax documents to the head office daily – I can’t say I miss those days!

“I have made many close friends during the 30 years at the business and I truly have enjoyed the hard working and happy atmosphere at Llanelli every day.”

Kay Dodd, Depot Manager, added: “Bev is a valued member of my team here at Llanelli, she provides excellent customer service to customers, clients and colleagues. She has a courteous and caring attitude and goes beyond her duties to ensure everyone has a positive experience at Yodel Llanelli. Thank you for everything Bev!”

To join Beverley and the team at Yodel’s Llanelli depot, or to find out more about working for Yodel, and the roles and training available, visit www.yodelopportunities.co.uk or text ‘Deliver’ to 84433. 

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Preparatory works to start at key Stepney Street Building

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Preparatory works are due to start on a key building in Llanelli Town Centre ahead of formal planning approval.

Number 49 Stepney Street is being redeveloped as part of a significant investment in the town centre to transform, regenerate and connect its key retails and leisure areas.

Carmarthenshire County Council has submitted plans which could see the former YMCA building retain much of its character whilst providing high quality living space and commercial units

The works would include the restoration of the front façade of the building, along with the retention of the perimeter wall, main internal structural walls and bringing back many original features such as the ornate staircase.

Subject to planning approval the rest of the building would be redeveloped to include two floors of commercial space on the ground and first floors, with eight two-bedroomed living spaces on the upper floors.

There will also be residents parking spaces on the ground floor.

The works currently underway will prepare the building for redevelopment and include stripping and clearance of old materials.

Carmarthenshire County Council leader Cllr Emlyn Dole said: “Many generations of people from Llanelli will have special memories of using this fantastic building over the years and it is such a shame to see it lay empty and falling into disrepair – we’re proud to be leading on this scheme to breathe new life into it once again.”

The council has already spent £4.5million buying empty shop units from private ownership, renovating and bringing them back in to use at affordable rental levels – all of them currently occupied by independent businesses

A Local Development Order has been put in place to simplify the planning process for property owners and potential investors

This project is being procured via the South West Wales Regional Contractors Framework. Carmarthenshire County Council has appointed a regional contractor who will develop the project alongside local supply chains.

For further information on this framework, email TSSWWRCF@carmarthenshire.gov.uk

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