Stakeholders updated on Go Underhill

Stakeholders updated on Go Underhill

Representatives from a range of local groups and interested individuals have been updated on the latest position in the development of Underhill Park.

The online briefing, held on 27 March, was a chance for those present to hear about the progress that has been made, see designs for the construction of the new buildings and learn about the timeline for what happens next. Those attending the virtual briefing included officers from local sporting clubs, community and business group representatives, plus individuals who have offered to assist Mumbles Community Association.

The session, which was led by MCA chair Simon Tse, also gave attendees the opportunity to ask questions about any aspect of the development.

Simon also set out the different work strands that MCA will be following in formulating the plans for operating the Park and the new facilities, once the building work is complete. These include Catering, Marketing & Events, Admin & Finance, Pitch Management, Buildings & Grounds Maintenance, and the new Youth Group. MCA will be seeking assistance from the community to help with these work streams, and those attending the session were asked to identify any areas where they could offer practical support.

Speaking about the importance of the session, Simon said:

“Whilst MCA is driving the development of Underhill Park, we are doing it on behalf of the local community and want people to feel involved. What we aim to deliver is for everyone who lives, works, or plays in the wider Mumbles area, so it is important for us to share the progress – and the challenges still facing us – with everyone who has an interest.

 

“The positive comments made by those who attended were heart-warming, and hearing their questions and comments was invaluable. Further briefing sessions are therefore being planned for later this year and we would welcome more people attending.”

Future update sessions will take place on Saturday 03 July and Saturday 06 November. Anyone interested in taking part, or willing to help MCA with any aspect of the future operations, is asked to get in touch with MCA by emailing: info@go-underhill.com.

MCA plan to issue a general progress update later on in April. The update will be posted on the noticeboard in Underhill Park – situated opposite the children’s play area, posted on the Go Underhill website – and sent to people who have registered to receive updates.

Anyone wishing to receive an update directly should register below

Application made for minor amendments to Planning approval

Application made for minor amendments to Planning approval

Mumbles Community Association has submitted an application for a number of ‘non-material amendments’ to the planning application, which was approved by Swansea Council in November 2019.

The application covers changes to some elements of the roof design of the main changing room block; some minor internal changes with associated alterations to some door and window positions; minor amendment to the siting of the new electric transformer station and vehicle access and compound and associated fencing; and a reduction in the size of the all-weather pitch (AWP) and perimeter fencing, together with a linked reduction in the number and location of floodlighting columns from 8 to 6.

The adjustments in the roof design, the internal changes and the revised location for the new transformer station are the result of the detailed design work being done to prepare the development to go out to tender.

Whilst the main building works are almost ready to tender following the recent signing of the legally binding grant agreement with Mumbles Community Council, funding is still being sought for the full costs of a new AWP.

Having sought advice from potential funding sources, MCA has reluctantly decided to focus efforts on plans for a reduced size AWP. In the view of Football Association of Wales (FAW) and Welsh Rugby Union (WRU), there are already sufficient full size AWPs within the Swansea area to meet local needs. As such, neither body would support MCA in their efforts to build a full size AWP.

Chair of MCA, Simon Tse, said:

“Whilst we would dearly love to see a full size AWP in Underhill Park, we have to take a pragmatic view on what it is possible to fund.

 

“We have a commitment of £325k towards the AWP from Mumbles Community Council as part of the recently signed grant agreement, but that leaves a balance of at least £350k that we need to be able to build the smaller pitch, and an even larger amount for a full size one.

 

“It seems advisable to follow the advice of those bodies who might be able to help us with grant funding, as well as seeking alternatives.”

The reduced size AWP being applied for is approximately 80m x 66m, making it suitable for football and rugby training for all ages, for tag rugby games for under 12’s, and for mini size football games for ages 6 – 14, with sufficient room to enable two games to be played at the same time.

The AWP would be available for other uses, with ideas such as keep fit classes, parent & baby fitness and coordination sessions, holiday soccer camps, netball coaching sessions, and schools sport lessons being discussed.

Simon continued:

“Although we are looking at a smaller than desired AWP, this will still be a significant addition to the facilities available for the local community in Mumbles. Having an AWP will also help ensure the sustainability of our management of the Park, and we have not completely given up on the full size pitch.

 

“The on site preparation work to be done will be suitable for hosting a full size AWP, and Sustainable Drainage Schemes have been submitted to the agents for Natural Resources Wales for both options.

 

“If we can secure enough money, then we will re-apply to Swansea Council for permission to build our ideal pitch.”

In addition to the non-material amendments application, MCA anticipate making an application for release of planning conditions soon, paving the way for tenders to be sought and the Go Underhill development to get underway.

Grant agreement for Underhill Park approved by Mumbles Community Council

Grant agreement for Underhill Park approved by Mumbles Community Council

Another milestone in the development of Underhill Park was achieved last night when Mumbles Community Council approved a legally binding Grant Agreement with Mumbles Community Association.

The agreement grants MCA up to £1.2m towards the cost of developing new facilities in the Park.

At the meeting, the Council also agreed the recommendation to borrow £840,000 to cover a portion of the grant, following the Welsh Government granting approval for the Community Council to do so.

Mumbles Community Council’s Chair of the Community and Social Well-being Committee, Cllr Rebecca Fogharty, said:

“The full Council decided last year to offer our wholehearted support to the development of Underhill Park and to underwrite a significant portion of the funding to enable it to progress and ensure it offers services for all of our community. Following the permission from the Welsh Government for us to take out a loan, putting this grant agreement in place will enable MCA to move forward with the development of new changing rooms, public toilets, and ancillary services.

 

“Taking out a loan which will be repaid over 10 years will enable us to use money generated through the annual precept to follow wider plans for improvements in the Mumbles Community Council area as well as supporting Go Underhill. This approach ensures the best use of the annual funding we receive from the community without needing a bespoke increase.”

Simon Tse, Chair of MCA, paid tribute to all the hard work that has gone into getting the Grant Agreement in place, and thanked solicitors from Douglas Jones and Mercer (for MCA) and Peter Lyn & Partners (for MCC) who have played a key role in achieving this.

Looking ahead, Simon commented:

“We are almost over the line in terms of getting the development of Underhill Park underway. MCA are awaiting the outcome of our grant application to the Welsh Government’s Community Facilities Programme, which should be known later this month, and hoping for a positive result.

 

“If approved, this additional money will enable us to tender all the Phase 1 building works at the same time, in a single cost-effective package.”

One final legal matter needs to be concluded to enable the works to go ahead. A tripartite agreement with Swansea Council that will grant a Head-Lease on the Park to MCC who will then grant a sub-lease to MCA needs to be in place. Work on the agreement between the three parties is underway, with everyone working hard to get this done as soon as possible.

Simon concluded:

“Whist we still have some fundraising to do, once the lease agreement is finalised, tenders will be invited for the first phase building works. With a fair wind, we hope to start building on site this summer, so exciting times ahead for Underhill Park and for the community.”

 

New trees planted at Underhill Park

New trees planted at Underhill Park

Led by Mumbles Development Trust (MDT), a group of volunteers and children has planted 105 native woodland saplings in the grounds of Underhill Park.

The work was carried out in co-operation with Mumbles Community Association, Friends of Mumbles Parks and Oystermouth Primary School PTA.

After all the organisations agreed that planting of the woodland area adjoining Underhill car park needed improvement, MDT made a successful application to the Woodland Trust for the pack of saplings.

The young trees were selected to reflect the current diversity of woodland in the area and will ensure that there is continuity of growth on the periphery of our community park for many decades, for the enjoyment and well-being of future generations in Mumbles.

It is hoped that pupils from Oystermouth School will be able to make regular visits to the saplings from 2021, to water, monitor and measure growth.

Swans Legend Alan Curtis excited by Go Underhill

Swans Legend Alan Curtis excited by Go Underhill

Honorary Club President of Swansea City FC and former Wales international footballer, Alan Curtis, has shared his excitement about the positive impact the Go Underhill development will have.

Alan, who lives locally, has been a part of the Swans for more than 40 years, initially as a player and later in community, coaching and management roles. Through his commitment to football and the Swans he has become known as ‘The Legend’.

UPDATE: Congratulations to Alan on being appointed MBE in 2021 New Year Honours

Speaking about Go Underhill, Alan said:

“What a wonderful initiative the new development for Underhill Park is, and what a great boost for the whole of Mumbles.

 

“Mumbles Community Association are doing tremendous work on Go Underhill and everyone locally should be really excited about this new scheme.

 

“I had the pleasure of playing for Mumbles Rangers later in my career, as did my sons and hopefully as will my grandchildren. But the development is not just for all aspiring footballers, it will be a benefit for any sportsperson and everyone living in the surrounding area.

 

“I am really looking forward to the floodlit astro pitch which will give the younger and older players an environment to enjoy and in which they can prosper. All this added to the new community café area where families can sit and enjoy the facilities on offer makes a great package.

 

“Mumbles Rangers has always been an institution in the village and beyond and this initiative will continue that tradition.”

Chair of MCA, Simon Tse

“Having support from such a Swans legend is brilliant for Go Underhill. Alan has played an important part in sporting life in Swansea for many years and his passion for football at every level is evident. We are very grateful to Alan for his endorsement of our work and words of support for the whole development.”

Image of Alan Curtis © Swansea City FC