‘Grim, shoddy’ . . . but I like it!

Llanelli Star - - LETTERS - Robert Lloyd @rl­loy­dpr 0779857235­6 [email protected]­line.co.uk

THE Mar­mite fac­tor comes into play when you look at Mil­len­nium Quay (Pen­tre Doc y Gogledd) at North Dock, Llanelli.

You ei­ther love it or hate it.

At the ground-break­ing cer­e­mony back in 2003, it was hailed a 21stcen­tury project to help kick-start the growth and su suc­cess of Llanelli’s M Mil­len­nium Coastal Pa Park.

A £22m “lux­ury” h hous­ing de­vel­opm ment on a maritime th theme – 42 town houses and 216 apart­ments on a p pre­vi­ously derelict in in­dus­trial site. David McLean Homes bought the seven-acre tract of land at the dock, b bor­der­ing the £ £31m Mil­len­nium C Coastal Park. The buzz about the t coastal park had kicked off the pre­vi­ous year with a visit to the fledg­ling coastal park by the Queen dur­ing her Golden Ju­bilee year.

Fast for­ward a few years and Mil­len­nium Quay was ready for oc­cu­pa­tion.

Cue grum­bles about the ar­chi­tec­ture – and I should know; my first im­pres­sions were grim.

I vividly re­mem­ber Llanelli his­to­rian John Ed­wards de­scrib­ing the devel­op­ment to me as “Llanelli’s Lit­tle Dres­den”, in ref­er­ence to what he con­sid­ered to be the East Eu­ro­pean theme adopted by the builders.

A let­ter writer to the Llanelli Star could not con­ceal his an­noy­ance . . .

He said he was “in­creas­ingly con­vinced Llanelli is be­ing sold short by the lo­cal plan­ners and their po­lit­i­cal bosses, un­der pres­sure from de­vel­op­ers who want to grab as much land as pos­si­ble in the area”.

He added: “In a num­ber of cases, plan­ners have opted for shoddy com­pro­mises on de­sign for new build­ings and are in dan­ger of turn­ing the nat­u­ral, wild sweep of the bay north­wards of Pen­tre Nick­laus (near Machynys golf course) into a pas­tiche of the dis­mal coastal rib­bon de­vel­op­ments that have ru­ined Eng­land’s South Coast for ever.

“The devel­op­ment at Mil­len­nium Quay is ap­palling by any ar­chi­tec­tural def­i­ni­tion. The view to­wards Pwll has been ut­terly ru­ined by the clus­ter of in-your­face high-rise towers that re­sem­ble the pre­fab­ri­cated apart­ment blocks that still blight East Ger­many’s towns.”

Down the years, even ar­chi­tects have failed to come up with a whole­hearted de­fence of the devel­op­ment.

For ex­am­ple, one com­mented in a re­port to Car­marthen­shire coun­cil, “The height of the build­ings along the perime­ter pro­vides a strong fea­ture to the land­scape, which has more of an in­dus­trial feel than the softer coastal de­sign which can be seen at The Links, Machynys West and Pen­tre Nick­laus.”

The words have been harsh, but I sus­pect I’m not alone in hav­ing a more mel­low view of Mil­len­nium Quay to­day.

Most of my ear­ly­morn­ing walks take in the seafront prom­e­nade and the North Dock side of the build­ings. When they catch the sun­light, when they re­flect in the wa­ters of North Dock, when they shim­mer in the moon­light, they look a pic­ture.

And vis­i­tors to the Wales Coastal Path end up do­ing just that – tak­ing a pic­ture souvenir.

Beauty is in the eye of the be­holder, and while I stop short of us­ing the word “love” I am now def­i­nitely in the “like” lobby.

True, they’ve weath­ered a bit. But, let’s face it, show me a sea­side build­ing that doesn’t af­ter 10 years or so.

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