Bridgend County Borough Council has revealed its plans for designing and developing a new water sports centre at Rest Bay in Porthcawl.
The ambitious project is intended to provide new high-quality facilities for visitors to the award-winning Blue Flag beach while establishing an iconic, contemporary attraction capable of supporting and developing sports and leisure activities in the area.
With funding currently being sought for the project, it forms part of an initiative to create a year-round, family-friendly local hub for water-based sports that will appeal to a broader audience of seasoned enthusiasts and beginners alike.
The proposals will make the most of the unique setting offered by Rest Bay and could include enhanced café and kiosk facilities as well as improved changing and toilet amenities.
Porthcawl’s coast and beaches have a long history of attracting residents and visitors, and Rest Bay is known to be one of the best surf beaches in the UK.
With more than 3.75 million residents living within a two-hour drive of the area, the project aims to capture the growing popularity of sports and leisure activities and make Rest Bay a uniquely placed destination for surfing and other water sports in Wales.
The plans for the new water sports centre have taken inspiration from similar UK facilities such as Swansea’s 360 Centre, Monmouthshire’s Llandegfedd Centre, Peterborough’s Ferry Meadows Centre and the Dover Sports Centre.
The announcement follows the recent granting of planning permission for the community–led Porthcawl Maritime Centre project and news that work has started on bringing the Grade II listed Jennings Building back into public use with all-new waterfront facilities.
Councillor Charles Smith, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Development and chair of the Bridgend Coastal Partnership, said:
“An all-new water sports centre at Rest Bay will further consolidate Porthcawl’s growing visitor appeal and secure its potential as a coastal resort fit for the 21st century.
“The potential and high quality of local water sports was highlighted recently when Porthcawl Surf School beat off 150 competitors to be named Best Surf School In Britain at the UK Pro Surf Tour Awards 2016.
“Many people could be encouraged to holiday within the UK in future, and Porthcawl stands to benefit as long as it has the attractions and facilities to become an all-year-round destination of choice.
“The other work that is underway in Porthcawl sits alongside the likes of its world-class golf facilities, Wales Coastal Path and new marina to form an ambitious programme of regeneration that will strengthen the area’s position among visitors, who spent in excess of £313m in the county borough last year.
“We have also had a highly effective Coastal Partnership in operation for nearly two years, and this is helping to drive forward the type of change that we all want to see by enabling us to share ideas and work closely together.”
Karl Schmidtke, Chair of Bridgend Tourism Association, said:
“Tourism is a vital part of the economy of Bridgend County Borough, and a much-needed scheme like this is responding to demand.
“The development of a water sports centre proposes to offer a unique new facility that will only improve the area’s appeal for residents and visitors alike, encourage more people to visit and support a growth in the economy.”