Colwyn Bay supports a healthier community by creating direct fitness activities such as running and cycling routes along the waterfront to encourage exercise. The carefully designed features of the promenade such as a gently sloping ramp to the beach and well-spaced artwork features allow for greater access and interaction for all users.

A breath of fresh air

The Colwyn Bay Waterfront Project, a key part of the Baylife Regeneration programme, has seen major investment into the redevelopment of the town’s seafront, safeguarding the town and its infrastructure from the threat of the sea and predicted climate change for years to come. The project extends over a 2.3mile length of promenade from Rhos Jetty in Rhos on Sea, eastwards to Beach Road, Old Colwyn.

The first phase of the Colwyn Bay Waterfront environment improvements formed part of a larger Coastal Town Regeneration project which received significant investment from the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government. The work completed during 2014 and saw an extension of the permanent beach, as well as extensive improvements to the promenade between Porth Eirias and the Pier.

August 2016 work on Phase 2 of the Waterfront Project started and has seen almost 1km of existing promenade transformed between Victoria Pier and the eastern extent of the Cayley Embankment. The work included widening, realigning and raising a section of the existing promenade; improving parking; new landscaping and improving the promenade finishes and facilities all concluding in September 2017.

The Brief

The 10,884m2 of Promenade Enhancement Works aimed to renew the promenade following a similar design theme to that adopted for the recently completed Phase 1 of the scheme.

The existing highway and promenade was raised where required to increase the level of flood protection, with the highway being realigned to increase the width of the promenade on the seaward side of the road. The parking provision on the promenade was renewed. Sections of the promenade were widened and featured headland areas which were created following a similar theme to the promenade regeneration work completed to the east of the Pier. These created ‘mini-hotspot’ areas to attract private investment (such as cafes, beach concessions).

The design approach was set in the context of ‘One Conwy’ CCBC’s vision for the future of Conwy County Borough Council. These principles are also enshrined in the Welsh Government’s Vibrant and Viable Place (VVP) national outcomes for prosperous communities, learning communities, and healthier communities.

Materials Used

PAVING – Kellen Lavaro was specified as a cost-effective solution as an innovative concrete modular product with a high quality granite aggregate top finish. The extensive range of colour finishes provided great opportunities to expand on the design concept to punctuate the 825m long site with colour and texture at strategic locations.

Kellen Lavaro range was used at two other public realm schemes along the promenade. The continuity in the materials and colour palette was critical in linking the various schemes together whilst allowing a great deal of flexibility for site-specific paving design. The progression in the paving design follows the public’s journey along the promenade. The use of colours was critical for an all year round impact, but also connects with emotions and memories of a ‘day by the beach’.

Kellen Lavaro palette:

  • Grijs / Grijs/Rood mix for general unit paved areas
  • Grijs, Orange, Rood, Geel, and Wit in various combinations to seating areas and thresholds

Double Excel – The visual and structural strength of the 2 x 2m Double Excel concrete slabs were selected for areas susceptible to wave action.

Artscape – Natural Stone: All of the artwork was produced using natural stone to address the need for resilience in the harsh coastal environment and in an area of heavy foot fall. The use of various stone types also allowed the design of intricate images in the form of the ‘Postcards from Colwyn Bay’.

Conwy County Borough Council were very keen to have artwork elements to celebrate the history and people of Colwyn Bay. Two streams of bespoke paving art were developed with CCBC, BCA Landscape and Hardscape:

  1. ‘Health Markers’ – To promote and encourage activity on the promenade in line with CCBC’s corporate plan to help inspire people in Conwy towards a healthier and independent lifestyle using a series of distance markers at 50m intervals in granite with waterjet artwork with imagery and text to promote sports, health and wellbeing.
  2. ‘Postcards from Conwy’ – The postcards tell the history of Colwyn Bay in a playful and imaginative way. The imagery and the bilingual text only give a snippet of the extensive research done to produce them. It is intended to inspire visitors and locals alike to go and do their own further research. QR codes placed adjacent to each postcard also provide a route to further information.

A wide range of natural stones were chosen to create a palette of colours to produce the images on the postcards. The text portion was produced in Crystal Black and Mist granites as these provided the best contrast to make the text as legible as possible.

The health markers (placed at 50m intervals along the Promenade) were created using Crystal Black and Mist granites for clarity and to complement the more detailed appearance of the postcards.

The Wave Seat – a simple two-tone granite block seating. The strength in the design comes from the combination of radial blocks to form a 27m long irregular curvilinear sculptural seat with shallow alcoves for social interaction. The use of the contrasting Mist granite and Carlow Blue limestone lends strongly to the bold but simple visual composition.

Some of the main challenges the Client Team had to overcome was achieving the specified levels of flood protection within a relatively confined space. Design in response to coastal conditions – particularly the choice of materials and the construction detail to reflect the potential for inundation by wave action.

Hardscape helped to overcome these challenges with:

  • Close collaboration with the Landscape Architect to achieve the design ideas.
  • Contribution to the communication of the ideas to the Client body through the provision of precedent images, samples of the proposals, and visit to see the production process.

Results

The area of the promenade at Colwyn Bay has been transformed from a barren, narrow through route, into an accessible, modern and inclusive space. The promenade is once again an asset which locals can take great pleasure in and will also help to attract visitors back to the town, which is key to the wider regeneration aspirations of the area.

It remains Conwy’s intention to continue the scheme around to each end of the Bay, and the objective would be to replicate and pursue with the style and colour palette which has been implemented so successfully within the phases of work competed to date.

The Project was committed to operating to the highest environmental standards and committed to pursuing sustainable design solutions and construction methods whenever practical. This had led to the first stage of the Project (Phase 1) being awarded a CEEQUAL rating of ‘Very Good’ and the second stage (Phase 2) being awarded ‘Excellent’. Porth Eirias has also been awarded a BREEAM rating of excellent, which demonstrates the design, construction and operation of the building comply to the highest standards of sustainability. The (Phase 1) Project was also awarded the ICE Innovation Award in Summer 2014 for the approach which has seen the amalgamation of Coastal Defence upgrades and Environmental Improvements. Yet a further award for Phase 1 at the ICE Wales Cymru Awards (Bill Ward Sustainability Award 2017 winner). 

Lifestyle improvements

An improved link between the beach and town centre has ensured that the regeneration benefits were not just confined to the promenade – which has seen new ‘year-round’ businesses such as cycle hire, ‘boot camp’ style fitness classes and watersport activities.

Client: Conwy County Borough Council; Engineers: Mott MacDonaldLandscape Architects: BCA LandscapeContractors: Volker Stevin; Paving materials supplier: Hardscape