The publication of the long-awaited Wales Audit Office report on the Regeneration Fund for Wales (RIFW) should enable the Welsh Government to start investing in important regeneration projects such as the Mumbles Pier development, the Welsh Liberal Democrats Assembly Member, Peter Black has said.
Mr. Black has written to the Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty to urge her to reinstate the offer of loans, where needed, that had been agreed by RIFW before the fund was suspended to allow for the Wales Audit Office investigation to take place. These included assistance with the Coastal Housing development adjacent to the castle in Wind Street, the former British Legion building in Mumbles and the Mumbles Pier development, amongst many others.
The Regeneration Fund for Wales was holding around £30 million in public money to facilitate regeneration activity, money that has subsequently been taken back into the Welsh Government.
"Mumbles pier needs substantial work carried out to it to make it safe and to secure its future as a major attraction," said Mr. Black. "The work is predicated on the sale of land for housing along the promenade and on the headland, the proceeds of which will then be used to renovate the pier and the old lifeboat house, as well as create a commercial centre on the mainland by the entrance to the pier. All the proceeds of the sale are to be invested in the work on the pier and headland so there is no profit accruing to the owners from the residential development.
"However, because of the work that needs to be carried out to realise the full value of the land there must to be an upfront investment in these works before the scheme can proceed. The plan was to use a £2.6m loan from RIFW to cover this funding hiatus, which would then be repaid in full with interest. Up until now that has not been available to the company and as a result the whole project is on hold.
"It is important that we get this project back on track and as a result I have written to the Minister asking her to make a quick decision on how she will be utilising the regeneration fund in the next few months."