‘Grim, shoddy’ . . . but I like it!
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.