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Jennings Building officially opened

7 September 2017

The impressive transformation of the historic Jennings Building on Porthcawl seafront has been marked with an official opening event.

Bridgend AM Carwyn Jones joined Cabinet Members from Bridgend County Borough Council, developers ABA Holdings, business owners, and representatives from Finance Wales, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Cadw to celebrate the iconic building being brought back to life.

Built in 1832, the Jennings Building was originally constructed as the southern terminus of the Dyffryn Llynfi Porthcawl horse-drawn tram road, which was used to transport iron and coal from the Llynfi Valley, and was more recently used as an indoor skate park.

But for the best part of the last decade it had lain vacant, before being transformed by Wales-based developers ABA Holdings after Bridgend County Borough Council granted them a long-term lease on the property.

ABA have a track record for restoring listed buildings, having also worked on the Tramshed in Cardiff and Barry’s Pumphouse.

They invested £2.5m in the Jennings Building project, and also received support from Finance Wales and Townscape Heritage Initiative Funding provided via Bridgend County Borough Council from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Cadw.

With its picturesque location next to Porthcawl Marina, the redeveloped Jennings Building now contains three food and drink businesses on the ground floor – a coffee shop, a pizzeria and a 5,000 square foot kitchen bar and restaurant complete with a full height atrium.

All three eateries are open for business, while further entrepreneurs will soon join them on the first floor of the building which features 14 ‘live-work’ units with loft bedrooms that will enable occupants to live and work on site.

All of the units have been allocated, and will be fitted within the next couple of weeks.

Councillor Huw David, the Leader of Bridgend County Borough Council, said: “ABA Holdings purchased the building with a proposal for a sympathetic development that respected the rich history of the Jennings while ensuring that it could also be brought back into popular public use.

“You only have to look around the building to see that they have succeeded in this aim, and I am delighted that we have been able to support their superb efforts through the Townscape Heritage Initiative.

“I have been particularly impressed by the inclusion of new first-floor units where people can both live and work on site. That’s a unique first for the county borough, and is an inspired move that has enriched the overall potential of the building.”

Councillor David added: “We are one of just two areas in the whole of the UK to have successfully set up five Townscape Heritage Initiatives, enabling us to focus on the Jennings Building in Porthcawl as being a crucial element of our regeneration plans for the town, as well as refurbishing other nearby landmarks such as the Pilot Lookout Tower and Customs House.”

ABA Holdings Director Simon Baston said: “We are extremely proud of this project and I would like to thank everyone who has been involved as it has been a real collaborative effort.

“The people of Porthcawl have been really supportive, and it has been a pleasure to restore such a fantastic building next to one of the most photographed lighthouses in the world.

“Through all of our ventures we are keen to support entrepreneurship, and so we deliberately wanted local businesses to be based at the Jennings Building, rather than chains that you can find anywhere, so that it has a unique identity. We are proud that this is the case, and are looking forward to the first businesses moving into the live/work units on the first floor soon.”

Speaking at the official opening, Bridgend Assembly Member Carwyn Jones said: “Fifty years ago, the redevelopment of a building such as this would have involved it being knocked down, so it has been great to see this project taken forward with such outstanding results.

“It’s incredible to see the work that has been done to retain the building’s character and provide somewhere that people can live, work and socialise. I’d like to wish the best of luck to all of the businesses that are going to be based here, and I’m sure that this development can help to kick-start other exciting projects in Porthcawl.”

Work to the Jennings Building has included…

  • The roof was re-covered, insulated and re-slated using the original slates.
  • The stone has been cleaned on the main elevations and re-pointed in lime mortar. The south elevation has been ‘over clad’ with a ‘rainscreen’ of vertically hung slate as protection, given the exposed position of the building.
  • To the east, the original window positions have been opened up to the ground floor level to provide doors out onto the harbour side. The original large opening to the south has been fitted with full height glazing with a view to the sea.
  • The existing chimneys have been refurbished and two new chimneys have been added in order to service the restaurants.
  • The original mezzanine floor has been replaced with a complete first floor structure and with the insertion of new internal divisions to provide new live live/work units with mezzanine bedroom levels within the existing roof trusses.
  • At the south end, in the main restaurant a full height atrium space has been retained in order to reflect the original building form.


Last Updated: 07/09/2017
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