All aboard for Swansea Marina action
SWANSEA Marina has picked up a few awards since it was developed back in the 1980s. But how is it shaping up these days? CHRIS PEREGRINE sounded out a residents’ leader for his opinion.
AFTER a working life in business in London and the Midlands, Keith Evans had no regrets about coming home to Swansea five years ago.
He and his wife settled in the marina and it was not long before he started getting involved in his new community, so much so that at the beginning of last year he became chairman of the Maritime Quarter Residents' Association.
He loves it there, recommends it to anyone, yet admits to some frustrations over the way it is treated by the council.
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And some of them surround the oft-used description of the marina as the jewel in Swansea's crown.
"Depends on how it is defined," he says. "There are other areas of Swansea which I am sure have this title. We are not trying to make the case that the maritime quarter is actually a unique case. Every part of Swansea has its own issues.
"We are not saying we are any different. Nor are we trying to look for any preferential treatment. I think I would qualify the description. We see it as the jewel in the tourism crown of Swansea. The location is great. As a place to live it is very good.
"Therefore, we wouldn't want investment coming here which is depriving another area of Swansea. However, economically the shopkeepers in the city centre say they struggle to make their business work. Equally having invested in the vision of the maritime quarter, an important part of Swansea, there is a lack of signs directing visitors down to the area.
"It is a lovely area for people to visit and, therefore, when they arrive it is disappointing that the vision anticipated during the 1990s by the council isn't being delivered for a variety of reasons."
He quotes Swansea Point, and plans he says have never been fulfilled for a café and children's playground on two overgrown waste ground sites.
"There are young families around here," he says. "And the number of tourists and visitors walking around make it ideal spot for people to have a break, appreciate the area and children to enjoy the area. It would attract younger families to come down here. For residents it is an eyesore."
Mr Evans says two business units nearby have never been occupied, but would be more attractive propositions if the other elements were in place to increase footfall.
"We know it is a fantastic place to live in and visit, with a terrific bay," he says. "We have embarked on a path to deliver a fantastic area in the maritime quarter and SA1, so we can get this economic benefit for the city.
"The council, councillors and officers at some time in the past saw the attraction of developing Swansea and it is more a frustration that there is this failure to deliver the vision. A frustration that more could be done and it hasn't been done.
"We have a good relationship with local councillors and officers within the council, and we do correspond and consult. There seems to be a lack of proactivity in what they do to ensure that standards are always the highest possible.
"We have taken a couple of walkabout tours and taken lots of photographs and given them to the relevant departments. Sometimes we get a response and sometimes we don't. We might get a response in a month's time but the issue reoccurs.
"There is a lack of proactive management to ensure high standards in this area."
And one problem area, he feels, is traffic management around Meridian Tower, with parking on the bend, including delivery vehicles and cars doing three point turns blind to other traffic.
"We get the same problems continually," says Mr Evans. "Speeding along Trawler Road is another. The blind bend is so dangerous. There will be accidents, we have said in meetings." But although there are frustrations, as there are, he concedes, in other areas of the city, he is also keen to stress the positives.
"It is the place to come," he says. "We live in a fantastic location and the community spirit is developing."
The association, which is an umbrella organisation for individual residents' groups throughout the marina, is trying to reach out to the growing number of people living there.
"There are about 2,000 homes and businesses on the marina, although with summer lets some are empty and there is a high proportion of rental properties," says Mr Evans. "There are young professionals, people who are still working, retired people and a good number of students down here and probably an increasing number.
"We try and represent both residents and businesses. We try to organise regular social events, coffee mornings, lunches, evening events, at a variety of locations. We spread them around so everyone benefits from what we are trying to put into the community."
Publicity leaflets, which include advertisements from local businesses, are pushed through as many letterboxes as possible.
"We are trying as effectively as we can to reach as many residents as possible via the leaflets, our website and email database," says Mr Evans.
"The marina is a large area and our primary objective is to try to encourage social inclusion. We have now ended up with quite a multicultural society here. We would not claim to be attracting everyone in but we are trying to reach as many people as possible. It is very important to try to encourage that social side."
A spokeswoman for the Persimmon company's development says it is aware of the situation with the two areas in question at its Swansea Point development "and are currently in negotiation with the local council on the installation of an equipped play area.
"Plans for a café on the development are also in place and is now being dealt with by the council. Customer service is extremely important to us at Persimmon and so we hope to see progression with these plans in the near future."
A council spokesman adds: "Discussions are taking place with Persimmon on both issues and negotiations are ongoing."