Tag Archives: council meeting

Cabinet denies existence of ‘CPO blight’

Ceredigion County Council cabinet members were left in no doubt yesterday that public support for the original Aberystwyth Masterplan should not be misconstrued as support for the revised plans announced in February. In his report to the Council*, Allan Lewis, Deputy Chief Executive, said:

“It should be made clear that the support expressed for the original draft Development Brief proposals, centered [sic] on the former Royal Mail site only, should not be taken as support for the current revised and significantly enlarged proposals.”

The report includes comments from several significant stakeholders. Regeneration partnership, Menter, are in favour of what they describe as ‘strategic regeneration’ but warn

“… developers seeking to ride roughshod over local businesses is not the way forward towards engendering a cohesive and welcomed centre of town development.”

Comments from Aberystwyth Town Council reiterated the statement they released earlier this year:

“…We are profoundly unhappy about the latest proposals which entail the demolition of so many small shops and we cannot give our support to such a scheme, no matter what the supposed economic benefits. We believe the economic benefits of maintaining the character of the town are very substantial also. We call upon the County Council to develop a scheme which maintains the majority of these small shops and to abandon preparations for Compulsory Purchase Orders.”

The ongoing ‘blight’ of the threat of compulsory purchase continues to affect homes and businesses in the affected areas of Great Darkgate Street, Chalybeate Street and Queen Street. The empty Woolworths store remains unlet and its owner has allegedly stated that the County Council ‘don’t know what they’re doing.’ Empty business properties are still liable for business rates, so the expenses being incurred by the owners who can not find tenants must surely be substantial – a situation, ironically, that the private developer who owns the Sorting Office site must be contemplating facing too.

At least one family have watched the sale of their property fall through, and are now faced with the real prospect that until the threat is lifted their property will be unsaleable. Properties adjoining and adjacent to the buildings under threat are also seeing their values fall as prospective buyers consider the prospect of living next to a demolition site.

Regeneration and redevelopment has plenty of fans but comments on Facebook groups – both supporting and opposing the revised plans – observe that some shops in the town look shabby and ill-kempt. High street chain stores with absentee landlords are inevitably the biggest culprits but the blight posed by the threat of CPOs is now likely to dissuade local business owners from investing further in the upkeep of their properties. One says, “Why should I spend a couple of thousand pounds painting my property when this time next year it might have been demolished?”

Despite this damning evidence, at yesterday’s meeting, Eurfyl Evans – Cabinet Member for Economic Development, denied the existence of any blight whatsoever. When asked for reassurance that CPOs would not be used, Council leader, Keith Evans, replied, “I can’t give a guarantee that CPOs won’t be used in the future.”

Apparently work on new plans that will take into consideration the concerns raised by stakeholders are well under way and can be anticipated -according to Council Economic Development Officers – in “weeks rather than months.” Hopefully the people of Aberystwyth – especially those currently affected by the threats posed by February’s ‘plans’ – won’t have too long to wait before their questions about the future of the town centre are answered…

* [Available for download here – click ‘Swyddfa Bost/ Post Office’]

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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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Councillors agree to public consultation

Press release from Ceredigion County Council:

ABERYSTWYTH TOWN  CENTRE DEVELOPMENT

This morning, 9 April 2009, the Ceredigion County Council Cabinet Member with responsibility for Regeneration, Tourism, Training and European Matters, Councillor Eurfyl Evans, welcomed Ceredigion County Councillors representing wards within Aberystwyth and surrounding areas to a briefing session where officers of Ceredigion County Council’s Regeneration Unit were able to brief Councillors of recent consultation meetings held with various interested parties in Aberystwyth in regard to matters involving proposals for redevelopment of the town centre.

Speaking after the  session , Councillor Eurfyl Evans said: “This morning’s briefing session given to fellow County Councillors from north Ceredigion went very well. Being the responsible Cabinet Member, I am now going to ensure that the representations and comments received by Ceredigion County Council are to be placed with the private sector developer and with the relevant officers of the Welsh Assembly Government.

I have asked my officers to invite the private sector developer to reassess all the options and to bring forward a development scheme recognising as much as possible the concerns which have been expressed. I am also going to ask for there to be public consultation on this scheme, to be undertaken by the private sector developer, before Ceredigion County Council can consider the value of any redevelopment scheme.

The Chief Executive’s Department, Ceredigion County Council,
Neuadd Cyngor Ceredigion, Penmorfa, Aberaeron,
Ceredigion, Wales. SA46 0PA

DATBLYGU CANOL TREF ABERYSTWYTH

Fore  heddiw , 9 Ebrill 2009, croesawodd Aelod Cabinet Ceredigion a chanddo gyfrifoldeb dros Adfywio, Twristiaeth, Hyfforddiant a Materion Ewropeaidd, y Cynghorwr Eurfyl Evans, ei gyd-Gynghorwyr Sirol o dref Aberystwyth ac ardaloedd cyfagos yng ngogledd Ceredigion, i sesiwn a gynhaliwyd yn Aberystwyth i’w diweddaru ar ganlyniadau ymgynghori rh w ng y Cyngor Sir a nifer o gyrff perthnasol ynghylch cynnig i ailddatblygu canol tref Aberystwyth.

Yn siarad ar ôl y sesiwn, dywedodd y Cynghorwr Eurfyl Evans: “Aeth y sesiwn ar gyfer fy nghyd-Gynghorwyr o ogledd Ceredigion yn dda iawn y bore ‘ma. Gan mai fi yw’r Aelod Cabinet cyfrifol, ‘rwy nawr wedi penderfynu sicrhau bod fy swyddogion i’n pasio at y datblygwr sector breifat yr ymatebion a sylwadau a dderbyniwyd gan y Cyngor Sir ar y mater hwn gyda chopïau hefyd yn cael eu pasio at y swyddogion priodol ar ran Llywodraeth Cynulliad Cymru. ‘Rwy wedi gofyn i’m swyddogion i wahodd y datblygwr sector breifat i edrycha eto ar yr holl opsiynau ac i gyflwyno cynllun datblygu fydd yn cymryd i ystyriaeth cymaint ag sy’n bosibl o’r gofidion sydd wedi eu lleisio. ‘Rwy hefyd yn mynd i ofyn bod ymgynghori cyhoeddus gan y datblygwr sector breifat ar y cynllun hwn cyn medrith Cyngor Sir Ceredigion bwyso a mesur gwerth unrhyw gynllun datblygu.”

Adran y Prif Weithredwr, Cyngor Sir Ceredigion,
Neuadd Cyngor Ceredigion, Penmorfa, Aberaeron,
Ceredigion, Cymru. SA46 0PA

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Fantastic Protest at Arad Goch

Over 70 people congregated in Bath Street this morning to protest about the as-yet unconsulted revised retail development plans. Councillors entering the closed briefing were met with chants of ‘Say NO to CPOs’ and ‘What do we want? CONSULTATION! When do we want it? NOW!’  Campaigners were armed with colourful placards in Welsh and English and large copies of the new Cadw Calon Aberystwyth posters.

The councillors entrance was further impeded by the automatic doors’ failure to open – effectively leaving them trapped amidst the protesters who regaled them with continued chants until the doors eventually opened.

Protesters outside Arad Goch

Protesters outside Arad Goch

A petition with over 2,100 signatures was handed to Eurfyl Evans of Ceredigion County Council. Councillors from North Ceredigion were meeting to be briefed about the new revised development plans; at the time of writing we have yet to hear what was discussed in the meeting which was closed to the public and the press on the grounds that it was ‘not a formal meeting’ and ‘no decisions were being made.’

The protest went peacefully, although one of the policeman present was overheard singing the chorus from the Kaiser Chiefs’ song, I Predict a Riot, to the great amusement of the young people present!

Once the meeting was under way the assembled crowd marched down Terrace Road and congregated for further press photos at the junction of Great Darkgate Street and Chalybeate Street.

The morning’s events were documented by two film crews, one from ITV, and the story will be covered tonight (Thurs April 9th) on Wales Tonight on ITV Wales at 6.00pm.

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