Tuesday 22 July 2014

The rise and fall of an unloved beach resort

The following is very much an apocalyptic, yet hypothetical and tongue in cheek view, of what might happen to the proposed new beach resort development, at Carlyon Bay - along with a very poignant, ironic, and indeed humorous, conclusion...

Carlyon Bay Resort

After over ten years of wrangling, planning applications and public enquiries, building finally starts on the beach resort, in 2015. Even at this stage, the developer has failed to raise much needed capital, relying instead, on speculative buyers and investors coming forward, once they see the resort taking shape.

The new resort is officially opened in a blaze of publicity, six years later, in 2021. Unfortunately, during the intervening period, the developer has failed to sell many of the properties, and the company set up to manage the resort is already in financial difficulties. All the retail outlets, some built several years before, have remained stubbornly vacant. The leisure complex, consisting of the gym, various leisure facilities and swimming pool, has already been closed, due to lack of use.

Just a year later, the management company is in liquidation, and the developer has failed to sell any more properties. They turn to the local unitary authority in order to raise much needed funds, in the form of rents, and to finally place the vacant properties into their intended residential use. Those that did buy properties, are now either renting them out, at much reduced rates, or have sold them, losing a large portion of their initial investment in the process. The writing is already on the wall.

Just a few years later, the unitary authority is using many of the properties to re-home the homeless. Other, now abandoned and vacant properties, are inhabited by squatters. It is no longer viable to retain a security team, vandalism and crime is rife. At night, the resort has become a no-go area, even for the Police, due to its isolated location. The now dark and dank under-podium (below the main level) car parks, are a Mecca for the homeless and drug users. The resort has become little more than a sink-estate. Locals avoid it, and the once pristine beaches are covered with litter, discarded syringes and other such detritus, and charred by the numerous bonfires lit by people, to keep warm, often whilst partying through the night.

The swimming pool is empty of water, but full of stinking rubbish, where rats abound, most of its windows are smashed. Dogs roam freely around the resort, and excrement, including that of humans, can be found everywhere. What planting there was, has now all gone, and weeds are encroaching upon the less used areas, as nature begins to take back what is hers. Anything that can be removed, has been removed and many of the buildings are now in a precarious state of disrepair.

Finally, in desperation, the developer hands over the entire site to the unitary authority, and walks away, writing off its financial losses. The financial burden created by the failed resort now lies with the local taxpayers. Just a few months later, the developer calls in the receiver, and the company is wound up.

Many properties have become burnt out shells, the result of people lighting fires to keep warm, as the resort’s centralised heating system is no longer operational, due to lack of maintenance, theft of parts and vandalism. Many other properties are in darkness at night, as a result of electricity supplies being cut-off.

In May 2029, a nearby elderly resident is murdered in her cliff-top home. A man, a squatter and drug-addict from the resort, is convicted of her murder. The local population is up in arms, demanding the immediate closure and demolition of the resort.

Eventually, eviction notices are served upon the remaining residents, both permanent and transient. As the last residents and squatters are escorted away, the resort is secured, locked and blocked to all traffic. All the buildings are condemned and earmarked for demolition as soon as possible, in order to ensure that no-one returns. The local population breathes a very heavy sigh of relief.

All traces of the resort are finally removed, and the beaches begin their gradual return to what they were, before anything had been built there. The year is now 2031! It took over ten years for the resort to come to fruition, and just over ten years for it to fall into squalor, and to meet its ultimate fate of demolition and obliteration.

Just a few months later, the unitary authority announces new plans for the former resort. It is their intention to build a modern, state of the art, entertainment complex and swimming pool, with a multi-function hall, bars, cafes and restaurants, along with a night-club. The phoenix, about to rise from the ashes of the former resort, is to be called – the Cornwall Coliseum!

This may seem like pie-in-the-sky to some, but, the fact is, such squalor and depravity very nearly did occur in a small riverside marina development, just over a mile away from where I now live.

In its early years, many of the properties were used by the local authority to rehouse people, as the developer couldn't sell them. The development gained a bad reputation locally, and the developer eventually went bust.

Fortunately, being within easy reach of London, and due to more people commuting to and from the capital, this situation was later reversed, as demand for property, along the Sussex coast, increased significantly. The Carlyon Bay Resort won't have that option, if it should ever be built, and ultimately fail.

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