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Swansea planning officers recommend Observatory cafe bar plans for approval

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: April 09, 2013

  • past and future Swansea Marina Observatory now and (inset) how it could look under new plans for a cafe bar scheme.

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IT was once a place where people looked out into space, but today the future of Swan- sea's former observatory will be decided.

They may not exactly be galaxies apart, but applicant Noah Redfern's plans to convert Marina Towers into a cafe bar and holiday let have generated opposition among some Swansea Marina residents.

But council planning officers believe residents' concerns can be satisfactorily addressed through conditions, and have recommended the application for approval.

Mr Redfern, the owner of Noah's Yard in Uplands, wants to add two extensions, create a ground and first floor cafe bar, install a new balcony, create an area for staff and — on the fourth, fifth and mezzanine levels — add a one-bedroom holiday let.

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Members of a council planning committee have their say this afternoon.

The application has resulted in six letters of objection. Concerns included increased noise levels, pedestrian activity and parking issues, plus licensing hours and drunken revelry spilling on to the beach.

According to planning officers Mr Redfern has confirmed he does not intend to operate the cafe bar beyond midnight, except on New Year's Eve.

The officers' planning report concluded: "It is a key aim of adopted planning policies and regeneration strategies for the city centre and Swansea Bay to improve the attractiveness of the city's waterfront for residents and visitors."

They said "the re-use of the observatory for a café bar complements the mixed use approach intended for the Maritime Quarter and significantly improves Swansea Bay's tourism and recreational offer, encouraging more visitors to the City's seafront''.

The report added: "It is also considered the proposed re-use and refurbishment proposals will also assist in securing the future of this significant landmark structure on Swansea's seafront and prevent it from being subjected to vandalism and falling into disrepair."

One of the recommended planning conditions is that the development should not go ahead until an additional storey at the car park on Slipway Road/Trawler Road has been reopened as a pay and display car park.

Marina Towers was built in 1988 and includes a domed roof and a tower that houses a spiral staircase.

It was leased by Swansea Astronomical Society for 17 years.

The society's 90-odd members meet twice a month at Swansea University from October through to May, and also use a telescope at the playing fields at Fairwood.

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  • swanseajock  |  April 09 2013, 6:40PM

    I think that the Astronomical Society missed a trick here. They threw their toys out the pram because of the rent rise, but I seem to recall that it wasn't extreme and over a 10/15 years period. But because they had had it for a pittance for so long they decided that they would rather lose the Observatory rather than raise money - raffles, coffee mornings etc - like everyone else has to ensure survival. Shame but at least it is going to be used at last

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  • Whichypoohs  |  April 09 2013, 5:05PM

    What a shame it's being lost as an observatory....but then we are too busy looking at the ground these days than to look up at the real wonders of our world.

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