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£350k scheme to improve facilities for car-free Newport Sands backed

Traeth Mawr (Pic: Pembrokeshire Coast National Park)

NEWPORT Sands, which became car-free last year, will remain so, but early stages of a £350,000 scheme to improve facilities have been backed by members of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.

Last May, the Authority ended parking on the Newport Sands beach after purchasing the land, in response to growing safety concerns.

It said the beach would be a ‘car-free’ zone, with exceptions only allowed for emergency services and essential car users such as the RNLI and coastguards.

A petition was later launched demanding a backtrack, saying an outright ban will have an adverse effect on a wide cross-section of beach users, including disabled visitors.

Last July, members of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park’s authority agreed to keep the car-free resolution, with a further update and report being provided after the first car-free summer, along with “actively pursuing options of how to improve access for people living with disability”.

Between October and November of last year, the Park also ran an online public consultation regarding the future of Traeth Mawr, with 107 responses received, members of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park’s authority meeting of March 20 heard.

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Some of the public responses to the consultation (Pic: Pembrokeshire Coast National Park)

A report for members said: “There is evident anger that access to the beach has been stopped for vehicles, as well as praise for this decision,” adding, amongst other issues: “There is a theme that current access for the disabled population is not where it needs to be with investment needed for a variety of mobility equipment, parking options, changing places toilets and changing/ cleaning facilities.”

It went on to say: “The Authority has considered these responses in drawing up a specific project for Traeth Mawr, seeking to use funding available as part of the Special Landscapes Special Places fund.”

Detailing the project, the report said: “The Authority has developed a project proposal to enhance the existing car park at Traeth Mawr, to replace and upgrade the existing toilet block and provide an enhanced facility including a changing places area.

“Updated drainage facilities will be provided as part of these changes. Additional changes proposed include permeable surfaces in the overflow car park, improved ramps to access the beach and three permanent beach wheelchair storage areas.  Enhanced landscaping and appropriate planting are also proposed to deliver net biodiversity benefits.”

The Park made £25,548 last year from parking at Traeth Mawr, but, as part of a wider two-year financial contributions to Pembrokeshire County Council to support public conveniences will be paying approximately £14,600 a year for Traeth Mawr for two years.

“It is anticipated that some of the capital works programmed will assist in reducing the annual revenue costs associated with running the facility if a more sustainable foul drainage solution and options such as small-scale solar PV panels can be incorporated as part of the design,” members heard.

Anticipated costs associated for the project are in the region of £330-£350,000, the report adding: “Precise costs will not be identified until further investigation works have concluded. The Authority has secured grant funding to meet the above outlined costs.”

A public consultation will take place as part of the planning application processes.

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