Last week I visited North Quay to see the current development that has been under construction since the summer and which is starting to take shape quickly. I grew up near Hayle and the regeneration of the harbour area has been talked about most of my lifetime. I can remember in the mid 1980s the attempt by Peter DeSavary to bring a project forward that didn’t get off the ground. In fact, one Hayle historian once showed me a book written around the time of the First World War that said “plans to develop Hayle Harbour have been delayed due to the war.” So perhaps it goes back even further!
There were then a couple more aborted attempts around the turn of the millennium before ING Bank of all people ended up the reluctant owners of the site as the result of one of their clients going in to administration. Progress on plans was then made. Having grown up around the history of false starts for Hayle, when I was first elected in 2010, the Hayle Harbour regeneration was one of the projects that I really applied my self to. I lobbied government to secure grants of around £5 million to improve the infrastructure to North Quay, put in the new bridge and to repair the harbour walls and raise levels to deal with flood risk. I spent many tortuous hours trying to broker an agreement between the local community, who wanted to project to move forward, and English Heritage, a government agency, which kept coming up with different objections.
We got there in the end and the ASDA supermarket was built on South Quay. It took a while for the design to grow on local people but it reflected the accommodation with Natural England and the architecture has now been recognised as a good example of what can be achieved on sites like this when people put their minds to it. ING then sold the rest of the site as they withdrew from the UK. The supermarket was only ever supposed to be the first stage of the regeneration. The final aim was to transform North Quay and have additional residential development and commercial property on South Quay. Sadly, in the past few years things have stalled again but that is now changing and work is underway.
The current first phase of the development along North Quay will be for high specification apartments. There will be around 150 in all and many of these have already been sold off plan. It is likely that the first residents will start to move in around Christmas and things will be well underway by next summer. Once again, the design of the buildings has been chosen to reflect the industrial legacy of the site to accommodate the views of Natural England. The North Quay area was the location of the local Hayle Power Station and an ICI factory and the view is that the buildings should have a nod to this past with an industrial or wharf side feel to the development.
Alongside some of the residential development, there will also be commercial space and restaurants within the development. There are also later phases planned above the Quay and around the fields at Riviera Farm. Initial ground work has already commenced and these later phases should progress over the next 18 monthsor so. When this project is complete, it will transform the harbour area and will be a major boost to Hayle. It will be good to see the harbour area finally regenerated after decades of being overlooked.