Calls for council to target different market for Nell's Point site sale

Barry And District News: CEREAL MARKETING: Paul Haley and traders plea for the kind of attractions written on theside of box (4864940) CEREAL MARKETING: Paul Haley and traders plea for the kind of attractions written on theside of box (4864940)

BARRY Island businessmen claim the Nell’s Point former Butlins holiday camp site failed to sell because the Vale of Glamorgan Council didn’t target the right people.

Pride In Barry chairman and Barry Area Regeneration board member Paul Haley and Island trader and businessman Jonathan Osborne said the council should target tourism trade industry publications like World’s Fair and tourism chiefs in an attempt to attract realistic bidders on the Nell’s Point and former public conveniences parcels.

Former Barry Island Pleasure Park co-owner John Collins, who was recognised by the Queen for services to leisure and tourism in 2011, was linked to proposals focusing on the development of Nell's Point.

John, a non-executive director of the Pleasure Beach, Blackpool, became one of the directors of the Tussauds Group Theme Parks Division after leaving Barry Island and, with a team, was instrumental in the development of the group's portfolio of theme parks and attractions including Alton Towers and Port Aventura in Spain.

John and son Michael Collins, of Collins/LDP consultants, produced a marketing report.

The council said the sites were then marketed widely, from September 2013 to January 2014, by the authority’s agents Knight Frank.

Two adverts were placed in Estates Gazette with an additional advert in the Property Week.

Three bids were returned – two in sole relation to the former conveniences block.

Paul said: “I think this tells the Vale Cabinet that they should eat humble pie and get John Collins back on board, as the Regeneration Board had three undercover attractions planned. The council then cited that this was too risky. When challenged, they eventually admitted there was no risk assessment, but embarked on this fruitless marketing exercise to the wrong markets and operators. The only way this can be remarketed so that it doesn't remain idle land and we fail to capitalise on the resurgence of Barry Island is if the Vale of Glamorgan approach John Collins and get him to directly market to the four global attraction operators that he identified to the Regeneration Board. The cabinet decided to supercede the regeneration board who had a clear vision, the right worldwide tourism expert on board, and were determined to create a legacy from the regeneration funding despite the arcane funding rules."

He called on the council and cabinet to not make the same mistake twice.

Jonathan Osborne said multi-million pounds of regeneration money had now been spent and the right audience hadn’t been considered.

He said: “The reason the marketing process failed is due to lack of match funding available to any potential operator to build anything significant. This is where regeneration funding comes into play. The council say they want it used for tourism, but who in this economic climate is going to invest up there and provide valuable local jobs without any financial help?

"Now that the £10million of regeneration funding has all been spent, I see little chance of any leisure operator wanting to take it on. It needs major investment.”

He added: “I would like to see a hotel-style complex , aimed at families, with built-in indoor attractions such as water slides, bowling , a showbar and a couple of restaurants - basically somewhere for people to stay, all year round, whatever the weather, and have fun. I would market the site for peppercorn rent, to a large hotel / leisure operator, for the first few years so that they can get something up and running, then review it at intervals, based on performance."

Vale Cabinet members at their meeting in Penarth on Monday (March 24) decided none of the three tenders be accepted and the parcels be remarketed at a later date if no alternative and acceptable options were available.

A Vale of Glamorgan Council spokesman said: "The council has marketed the site. The former Butlins site has been marketed in national trade press (for example The Estates Gazette) and through the specialist teams in London and South Wales."

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