Tag Archives: Cambrian News

Major chains oppose revised development plans

[photo: <a href=Top high street retailers, Dolland & Aitchison, Clarks and Clinton have all expressed their opposition to the revised and extended development plans.

In the Report of the Assistant Chief Executive on Aberystwyth town centre development opportunity (click on “Swyddfa Bost/ Post Office”), letters from the chain stores’ headquarters have been included in an appendix of correspondence supporting the main report.

Clarks state “Please can you register our opposition to the proposed development. We would not wish our shop to be acquired by Compulsory Purchase in order to facilitate the redevelopment proposal.”

Dolland & Aitchison echoed these concerns, saying, “We object to this proposal on the basis that we are happy with our representation in the town and would not wish to suffer the inevitable inconvenience and disruption that would result from the redevlopment of this area.”

The Clinton Card Group expressed strong opposition:

“The block within which we are a tenant is an integral part of Aberystwyth town centre and provides a significant variety of retailers that is becoming ever more rare in town centres. There is no need to introduce a single department store that will effectively destroy the mix of retailers in the high street and this can only be to the detriment of both the existing traders and shoppers in the town. It is with this in mind that I urge that this decision is reconsidered.”

When the plans were first revealed in The Cambrian News in February, it was suggested that a multi-screen cinema might also form part of the retail development. With three cinemas already existing in the town, it’s understandable that the managers of these local facilities would want to add their own voices to the opposition.

Michael Davies, owner of the Commodore Cinema in Bath Street, has  expressed his surprise and dismay regarding the news, saying he was “astounded that anyone would think that a multi-screen cinema could be viable in a town the size of Aberystwyth.”

Alan Hewson, Director of Aberystwyth Arts Centre, shared these concerns.

“Any plans for a multi-screen cinema […] would have an adverse and dramatic effect on the running of our own cinema as part of the Arts Centre whilst also impacting on our committment to provide specialist programming.”

The report – which also draws councillors’ attention to the 2100 signature-strong petition presented to Eurfyl Evans and mentions the Cadw Calon Aberystwyth Facebook group – will be presented to the Council Cabinet at their monthly meeting on June 2nd at Penmorfa, Aberaeron. Representatives from Cadw Calon Aberystwyth will be attending to discover first-hand how local democracy deals with the development plans and, most crucially, whether the blight of Compulsory Purchase Orders will finally be formally lifted.

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Campaign makes front page news

Cllr Eurfyl Evans accepts petition from Polly Leonard

Cllr Eurfyl Evans accepts petition from Polly Leonard (Cambrian News 10/04/09)

The leading front page story in this week’s Cambrian News confirms the results of last week’s successful protest at the council’s closed briefing, with the county council’s economic development officer, Eurfyl Evans, calling on the developers, CityHeart, to rethink the plans in the light of public opposition, and carry out full public consultation regarding their new proposals.

In an interview with ITV last week, before the council meeting, Mark McNamee of CityHeart acknowledged that Compulsory Purchase Orders are ‘a very emotive subject,’ adding that the Aberystwyth development was the fourth occasion in his professional career that he had been involved in what he described as ‘a compulsory purchase exercise.’ McNamee went on to say that as developers they had ‘not only a legal, but a moral obligation.’

Nick Bourne, AM

Nick Bourne, AM

Conservative AM, Nick Bourne, will be meeting members of Cadw Calon Aberystwyth this evening to discuss their concerns. In his column in today’s Cambrian News, Bourne confirms that the Welsh Assembly Government have yet to commit to supporting the revised plans. Leighton Andrews, Deputy Minister for Regeneration said,

‘Whilst discussions have been held, it is too early to determine other than in principle whether financial or other support from the Welsh Assembly Government would be appropriate.’

Nick Bourne will also be visiting traders on Aberystwyth’s Chalybeate Street, Great Darkgate Street and Owain Glyndwr Square on Thursday April 16th to listen to their reactions to the proposed revised plans.

10-year-old Katya Hawker at the protest

10-year-old Katya Hawker at the protest

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“Chains Welcome if Small Shops Stay Too” – Cambrian News 19/03/09

Cambrian News; 19/03/09 page 5

“ABERYSTWYTH traders would welcome a major national retailer in the town, but not at the expense of local stores, the town’s Chamber of Commerce has warned.Members of the Chamber heard from council officers about the controversial plans for a major new shopping development which could see 15 current shop premises taken over.And chairman Cyril Baker said although the principle of a national retailer coming to town would be welcomed, there are concerns about what it would mean for local businesses who could be forced out of their shops on Great Darkgate Street and Chalybeate Street.

He said: “Following a show of hands at the end of the meeting, it’s fair to say that the business community welcomes a redevelopment of the town centre, including a major quality retail chain opening at Aberystwyth, but it was clear that this should not be at the cost of the individual shops that give the town its character.

The bulk of the people at the meeting were very much in favour of the original proposal. We weren’t against it being expanded as such, but on the principle that it is done with the co-operation of existing businesses.”Mr Baker said traders also supported the idea of development in the centre of town rather than allowing more stores in out-of-town locations.

He said: “if we are left with a choice whether it is out of the town centre or say by the football club, or at the centre of town it would be better to see the development in the town centre rather than on the fringes.“As far as the Chamber goes, as developments come with quality retailers in place that would be acceptable, but not at the expense of knocking everything down.”

Mr Baker said the meeting was vital to let businesspeople in the town give their opinion to the council. He said: “it was important. I think the council attended it as a fact-finding mission. I think they were hoping to get an impression of what businesses think and want.”

Meanwhile, a Facebook group set up to support the local businesses that could be forced out of their premises to make way for a national retailer has attracted over 1,500 members.

Emma Lloyd who started the group, said most people supported retail development, but didn’t want to see the current businesses affected. She said: “I started the Facebook group on a whim having witnessesd many of my friends and acquantances reading about the new, more expansive retail development plans in the Cambrian News a few weeks ago. Within three days we had over 700 members and the total now stands at over 1,500.

“Group membership encompasses a wide demographic, from local businesspeople to tourists and students to pensioners. Most members seem to accept that sensitive and sympathetic development is necessary in Aberystwyth, especially in the currently empty Woolworths and sorting office sites.

“However, there is unanimous distaste regarding the threat of Compulsory Purchase orders to remove existing businesses from their premises, a threat which the majority of members feel is unfair and heavy-handed. However, if the situation did reach that point, the council would be obliged to present a com-pelling case in the public interest before such powers could be exercised.”

Ms Lloyd said members were also surprised that the plans being put forward now were so radically different to the original development proposals that went out to consultation.She said: “Concerns have also been expressed that the Aberystwyth Retail Action Plan is vastly different to the retail development plans depicted in the Masterplan which received public consultation. Questions are being asked about how the county council is acting on this matter and whether or not the democratic process is as transparent as it could be, bearing in mind the lack of consultation sur-rounding the new plans.

“One of the main feelings being expressed is that Aberystwyth is a special and unique town and that unsympathetic, heavy-handed development has the potential to destroy the individuality and character of the town.

“Whilst the original Masterplan acknowledges Aberystwyth’s stunning environment, its history and its rich bilingual heritage, the new retail plans reduce Aberystwyth to nothing more than a shopping centre and its people to nothing but sources of revenue for the corporate retailers.”

Ceredigion Council said that positive feed-back was received at the meeting. The spokesperson said: “The response was positive and virtually unanimous in supporting the development, subject to retaining the buildings and the niche retail shops which want to remain in Chalybeate Street.”

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