A RECENTLY erected Barry Island canopy – built as part of a multi-million regeneration scheme – is courting a debate among seaside users and residents .
The large white canopy recently positioned at the eastern promenade has divided opinion among Nell’s Point residents, traders and Barry Island visitors with it being labelled as resembling a giant Madonna’s bra, a wedding cake, a wonky wigwam and a wimple.
One Twitter user, posting a photograph, announced that the “Barry Island space programme was progressing well.”
The canopy is part of the£3m Welsh Government regeneration-funded facelift of the resort’s eastern side with other features including a new water feature in the shape of ammonite fossils and a variety of beach huts for use as either market stalls for local artists and traders or for visitors to hire.
Improvements are also being made to walkways, providing better access to the beach, and the disused changing area is being converted into a new toilet facility.
The project began in September 2013, but is experiencing delays.
But while Barry Island traders applaud the view from below, Nell’s Point residents expressed mixed opinion on the view from above.
One resident, who did not want to be named, said: “The definitive picture postcard view of Barry, looking back from Nell’s Point - it's where Derek the weatherman films his reports from Barry - has been ruined for everyone. It's been called a Giant Madonna's bra and even a giant t*t. It is an eyesore.”
He added: “There are concerns that the council has run roughshod over its own planning requirements. Any other development would have had to produce sight lines to assess visual impact. This has not been done.
“There is also concern that it is a very exposed condition and will not be able to withstand storm force winds. If it blows off and kills anyone who will be responsible?
“It's either a case of a scheme being done in a rush or the specification of the canopy has been changed from the original plans.”
He said calls should now be made by anyone who has an interest in Barry to demand the council either lower the canopy height to reduce visual impact and make it safer or remove it altogether to a more suitable location.
“This is not a few Nimby's kicking up a fuss,” he said. “This spoils the view for everyone and also the image of Barry.”
Vale Council director of development services, Rob Thomas, said the viewing platform and new shelter were important parts of the Barry Island regeneration scheme that would breathe new life into the eastern promenade.
He said: “Both elements were included in the relevant planning application which was subject to full and detailed consideration as part of the planning process. All views and opinions were taken on board before any decision was reached. The shelter will meet all relevant regulations and standards and will provide a first class destination to complement the new beach huts.”
Neighbour Howard Metcalf, 55, of Pioden For, Nell’s Point said he wasn’t against the development, but perhaps the structure could be lowered?
He said: “I’m about 150 yards from it. It does look odd. Most of the residents seem to be upset. Down on the beach it fits in quite well – there’s a huge spike on it. It’s like a wonky wigwam.”
A Barry Island visitor, who did not want to be named, said he thought the canopy “blended in with the Pleasure Park”, but Island promenade trader Pat Collins praised the feature saying it did its job in intriguing visitors and encouraging them to visit that side.
Trader of 55 years, John Zeraschi, of the Promenade Bar, Barry Island, said the Island had never looked better.
He said: “The eastern promenade gave the appearance of being cold and uninviting. Now it’s more pleasing to the eye. I’m impressed with the canopy. On a warm day it will give shelter from the sun and people can sit in the shade. It looks more warm and inviting.”