The Milford Waterfront development is continuing to increase its market profile and currently supports over 700 jobs at the site.
The Port’s aim to deliver spaces that appeal to both national and independent businesses is proving providential with gains made in both markets. For smaller businesses, 2017 was a strong year with Milford Waterfront welcoming the opening of Anna Waters Studio & Gallery, COCO’s Restaurant, Boobaloo Boutique, Haven Acupuncture and the relocation of Healthaspire. These businesses are helping to create the desired authentic, vibrant experience that is at the heart of the Milford Waterfront experience.
Acquisition of five retail units also enabled two existing tenants, Physiofit and Image by Vanessa, to expand their respective businesses, and means that over 50% of the retail space on the west side of the development is in Port ownership.
Opportunities for national businesses also progressed this year with the acquisition of Havens Head Retail Park (adjacent to the main Milford Waterfront development site). As freeholder of the site, the £15.3m purchase of Havens Head Retail Park Limited was a key investment for the Port. It is expected to add approximately £1m per annum to operating profit from 2018 onwards. The acquisition also complements the wider development’s aims and creates more opportunities for businesses looking for larger, prebuilt units which are already home to businesses such as Tesco, Boots and the Food Warehouse by Iceland in the Retail Park. The acquisition of land at Ward’s Yard (as well as the old railway track linking Ward’s Yard with the marina) was also completed in 2017 and further strengthens the overall potential of the Waterfront development.
Having established Resolution to Grant Planning Consent in 2015, specific planning approval has been granted for both a Drive Thru Costa Coffee (which has commenced build in 2018) and for four floating accommodation units (Floatel Cabins). Located in the marina, the Floatel Cabins will add to the region’s visitor accommodation profile with the first guests anticipated for spring 2019. The Port recognises the support it has received from funding bodies in 2017 as part of the planning and development phases: The Welsh Government's Ports Development Fund approved applications for Milford Waterfront focused on the installation of Wi-Fi across the development and a detailed investigation into Smart Grid application. The Floatel Cabins received a grant from the Coastal Communities Fund, and an interest free loan from Welsh Government’s Vibrant & Viable Places Programme is supporting the development for the Quay Stores site.
The Port is dedicated to delivering year round appeal and attracting more visitors and residents to Milford Waterfront. As well as the expanding leisure and retail opportunities, the Port hosted an exciting series of events throughout 2017 which has delivered a positive impact on visitor numbers. The new website (www.milfordwaterfront.co.uk) was launched prior to last summer’s powerboat racing event. This is an early phase component of the Port’s long term digital strategy that will enhance and revolutionise the visitor experience. Preparation work carried out in 2017 will enable the Port to support its customers with a true Digital Tourism offering as part of its omni-channel approach to attracting visitors. It will ensure the visitor experience starts before their visit, continues with ways to interact and support while at Milford Waterfront and onwards to continue the relationship and encourage return visits. Initiatives such as the customer Wi-Fi will ensure that the Port interacts with customers with sensitivity to their needs, and places customer insight at the forefront of the Waterfront’s digital components.
The Port’s Four Gold Anchor marina performed well in 2017 with an average occupancy rate of 85%. The Gold Cards introduced to reward annual berth holders have proved popular, with members saving almost £2,000 since the scheme was introduced in 2016. Feedback from berth holders has also led to monthly social events.
Looking towards the needs of both berth holders and wider Waterway users, a new petrol pump facility has been installed alongside the existing diesel fuel berth at the marina. This addition has enabled berth holders, commercial customers and Waterway users to access petrol twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.
Notable visitors to the marina included HMS Pembroke, Gipsy Moth IV as part of a 50th anniversary voyage to raise money for the trust, MV Balmoral and a 35-strong Cornish Shrimper boat delegation who took part in a regatta. The marina also hosted its own regatta in August - and this will return in 2018.
In October, ex-hurricane Ophelia saw winds gust up to 87mph at Milford Marina. During the storm one of the outer mitre gates broke off its hinges and as a result was left floating in the lock. The integrity of the lock and marina remained intact due to the backup available from the new Samson gates. While the gate was initially blocking the lock it was moved within 48 hours to allow vessel access. A detailed repair programme ensured that the gate was ready for reinstatement in January 2018 which coincided with scheduled repairs for the newer Samson mitre gates.
The 2017 cruise season saw five bookings with two cancellations due to poor weather conditions. Passengers from the vessels Silver Explorer, Prinsendam and Europa all enjoyed a warm shoreside welcome and explored popular Pembrokeshire attractions such as St Davids Cathedral and Pembroke Castle, as well as increasing numbers of independent passengers exploring Milford Waterfront and the town of Milford Haven.
Nine cruise calls are scheduled to visit Milford Haven and Pembroke Dock between May and September 2018. The expanding offer at Milford Waterfront means that cruise visitors benefit from enhanced alongside entertainment opportunities.
More details on 2018 visits can be found at www.mhpa.co.uk/cruise