Sunday, 30 November 2008

TRAMWAY FOR THE BAY

You may be aware that there is a proposal to run a low cost, energy efficient tramway between Rhos-on-Sea and Colwyn Bay Town. The planned route is along the promenade, to the pier and then up into Town.
Eventually I would like to see it encompass Eirias Park, Old Colwyn and run all the way through to the pier in Llandudno.
The tramway runs without the need of overhead cables, generates it’s own energy and is inexpensive to run and maintain.
With the regeneration of Colwyn Bay I believe it’s time to invest in a transport system of the future. Installation costs are a fraction of what the old style trams would be and the trams themselves can be of any design, modern or historic.
We have struggled, for sometime, on ideas of how to get the day-trippers away from the beach and into town, this will be the ideal solution, an attraction in itself. The people of Rhos will have easier access to the shops and BR station of Colwyn and, if extended, transportation for the kids going to and from school.
Eventually we may see the reinstatement of the link between Llandudno and Colwyn Bay, transportation for local people but also a means by which the holidaymakers in Llandudno can explore our regenerated town and shopping centre of Colwyn Bay.
Obviously I think it will be of great benefit to all of us, but what do you think?.

8 comments:

Chameleon said...

I take it you're referring to the Parry People Mover? I agree that a tram would potentially be a great idea but installation costs would not be inexpensive. Ripping up the road surface from Rhos to the Town Centre and installing tracks would cost a lot, not to mention the problem of the area on the town side of the rail bridge by the pier, which appears too tight a turn for a tram without a lot of rebuilding work. If some grant money can be obtained, of course, then that's fine. :-)

Councillor John Oddy said...

Chameleon,
The company involved is Parry & Associates, PPM are part of their group.
I do not deny there will be some cost involved in the initial implementation of such a project but for the majority of the proposed route the tram would be on the promenade which, in itself, is being regenerated with funds already in place. Track laying would therefore be done in conjunction with that. There would be one crossing of the main road and that would be at the pier where the tram would then run at the side of BR up to the station.
Do not forget Colwyn Bay has got a big portion of the £65m Assembly funding which we have to give spending proposals for, what better way than on a tram system?

Chameleon said...

Thanks for your comments, John. AS I understood it, though, the funds to regenerate the prom were not yet 'in the bag'? Perhaps you know more?

Although I'm certainly not opposed to the tram idea, I can't help but think that a programme to acquire and demolish most of the larger HMOs in Colwyn Bay would be of far more use to the regeneration of the town. No point spending millions to regenerate the place if the same people are still around to ruin it!

And while we're demolishing things, how about we shrink the town's shopping centre and focus it around Sea View, Station and Penrhyn Roads, with shops on the outskirts being demolished? We would have a smaller but far more viable & vibrant town centre, with very few empty shops. Your thoughts?

We need big ideas like these to sort Colwyn Bay out - no point tinkering around the edges!

Interested to hear your thoughts.
C

Councillor John Oddy said...

Chameleon,
The Regeneration grant is on top of the secured funding for the promenade, approx £7m, but not all of the £65m is ours, we have to prove the worthiness of any spending. Proposals for it’s usage have included the compulsory purchase of properties in certain areas, one of those being the old market at the bottom of Penrhyn Road.
I have a site meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) with Parry and Associates, John Parry himself will be attending and I hope to get a better idea of costing from them but I would think we are looking at an overall cost of between £4-5m. When you talk those sort of figures if we do not use the grant money available then we would never be able to afford it as a Council. This may all come to nothing but if you do not try you do not get, the acquisition of a tram system for the town would be a major step forwards for us but it would, by no means, be the solution to all of our problems. Your suggestion of reducing the shopping area of the town is totally the opposite to mine, I would like to see it increased. The market on a Saturday should overflow from Station Road into Conwy road and back down into Penrhyn Road, I would also like to see it there on Sundays, locally we have no Sunday markets so this would be a first.
This may sound like a strange example, I look at the Council Chamber as a Dream Factory, the dreams we have in there today may be the reality of tomorrow. To me it’s no good sitting there going over the same ideas and suggestions that have been mulled over for years, we need to get innovated, bring fresh ideas to the table, think to the future but always remember the past.

Chameleon said...

Thanks again, John.

It's interesting you see the outdoor market as a positive thing - surely it just sucks money out of the town that would otherwise be spent in local shops - you know, the same shops that pay the massive business rates and employ local people? The market traders come, make their money, leave their litter, and leave.

It would, of course, be a different story if a permanent indoor market could be opened, run by local traders and employing local people. Did you ever go into the old Indoor Market at the bottom of Penrhyn road? It was certainly an asset to the town.

How many empty shops are there in Colwyn Bay - do you happen to know? I would guess that there are 30+. There is no way that they will ever be all let again; some have been empty for many years. Are you really serious when you say you would like to see the size of the shopping area increased?

I'll be interested to hear your report on the meeting with Parry & Associates.

One last question - who will be deciding which regneration proposals are put forward for funding?

C

Councillor John Oddy said...

Chameleon,
I see the outdoor market as a magnet, it attracts shoppers from outlying areas into town and, once here, they not only shop in the market but also with the local traders. The idea of a bigger market comes from the popularity of Tir Prince, people drive for miles to go there, imagine all those shoppers in Colwyn Bay.
I would love the idea of an indoor market, my Mother used to take me to Leeds or Bradford indoor markets and they were a hive of activity. The principle of the idea is sound and I may consider it, thank you. Unfortunately I never used the indoor market here but if it was so popular what led to it’s demise?.
If there was one empty shop in Town it would be one too many but we are in a catch 22 position, shops need shoppers, shoppers need shops. We need to find a way of attracting both back into the Bay. It has to be something big, sexy and in your face, small enticements don’t work, they have been tried and failed.
My meeting with Parry and Associates went extremely well, they saw no problems with the proposed route or with phasing in extensions to it should we require them. Obviously until I have made my report to the Council I cannot talk facts and figures, what I can say is I was surprised by the enthusiasm of the Mayor, Cllr Edwards, he even wanted a longer route than my original proposal.
The results of yesterday’s meeting will be put before the next full Town Council meeting, they will then vote to decide if the idea should be put to the Regeneration Board, The Board then put it forward to Conwy Council who, in turn, put it to the Assembly. The Assembly will then choose the projects they consider to be best for the communities involved. As you can see my original idea has a long way to travel before it could become a reality.
Not all my ideas will work and I will make mistakes, I am new to this game, I am learning it’s a game, there are lots of changes I would like to see but they cannot all be done at once, I wish they could but they cannot. The main changes can only be instigated by the County Council but that is still full of ditherers and “don’t knows”, the old school who appear too frightened to implement change in case it affects their chances of re-election. If I cock-up I’ll admit to it but sometimes you have to take chances in life otherwise you’ll get nowhere and it’s the same with innovated ideas for our communities, someone has to take the imitative, the chances and the backlash if it doesn’t work, I’m prepared to do that because I have to prove I’m not there just to make up the numbers.

Chameleon said...

The original Indoor Market at the bottom of Penrhyn Road was pretty successful - there was a range of well established stalls and a small cafe in the middle of it. It only closed because a fire destroyed the back of the building in 1986. If you ever get the chance to look inside, you'll see that its pretty much as it was left back then.

My problem with the outdoor market is that 90% of the people it attracts are the ones with little money to spend, i.e the great unwashed. We have enough shops selling crap for a pound already! The outskirts of Colwyn Bay contain some of the most expensive property to be found in North Wales - shouldn't we be targeting their money instead?

Thanks for your report on the meeting with Parry - it will be interesting to see how the project moves forward. Anything that CCBC gets involved with tends to disappear in a black hole of incompetence, so keep on pushing the idea through!

Can I ask - what's your view on the Pier? Mine is that it is potentially an asset for both visitors and locals - it used to be the social hub of Colwyn Bay not so long ago! I believe that it needs to be in the ownership of a charity for it to become a success though. I'd be interested to hear your views.

C

Councillor John Oddy said...

Chameleon,
I’ll start with the pier but be prepared to put your thinking cap on and be a bit far sighted.
Demolish all the existing buildings that remain, extend the pier another 450mtrs, build a crescent of high class shops at the end of it with 24 luxury apartments above them. Double fronted shops down the middle also with 24 apartments above them. To either side of the pier floating pontoons to accommodate jet skis and at the end of the pier a floating pontoon marina with 2-300 berths. Where the original buildings are now becomes a bar, restaurant, entertainment centre and above them a casino or cinema complex.
This was a £16m development plan that I approached some County Councillors with a couple of years ago, they thought it was fantastic, there was even mention of a 50% Assembly grant available.
The problem came when I tried to purchase the pier from Steve Hunt, after my third very generous offer he still refused to sell.
It is no good going in to buying the pier unless you are prepared to spend a substantial amount of money on it and unless it’s a commercial venture there is little chance of any return on your investment.
You would need a plan such as the one above or be prepared to run at a loss.
The idea of extending the market would be that stores such as M&S, Next, BHS and/or stores such as them see Colwyn Bay as a good catchment area and decide to move here, with them come the higher quality retailers followed closely by the higher quality shopper. We have to start by attracting the people we may not want but we have to start somewhere.