Tag Archives: town council

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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Town Council give ‘unanimous support’ to campaign!

Town Hall, AberystwythThis evening a group of us from Cadw Calon Aberystwyth attended a full town council meeting down at the County Buildings on the seafront, where we heard representatives from both Ceredigion County Council (CCC) and the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) regarding the new and revised plans.

Allan Lewis, Asst Chief Executive of the county council commenced the presentation, and was obviously somewhat ruffled by public opposition to the new plans as he urged everyone to ‘calm down’ and pledged that the county council is committed to being ‘inclusive and transparent’ with regard to the proposed development. Lewis admitted that there was some ‘difference’ between the retail site plans presented in the Masterplan and the new, extended development, but claimed that the new plans apparently ‘appeal to the Assembly. He also conceded that contrary to popular opinion, no deals have been made with either the developer, retailers or WAG.

Lewis was followed by Jason Jones, Development Manager for CCC who claimed that whilst no deals have been struck as yet, Debenhams had expressed an ‘in principle interest’ in the proposed development. Jones went on to quote from various surveys that have been carried out (the results of which he claimed would be made public in three weeks’ time), using the information gathered to suggest that the vast amount of respondents were in favour of the new development. Martin Morgan, from the Department of Economy & Transport concluded the presentation by briefly stressing that WAG sees Aberystwyth as ‘ a centre of national importance’ and that the town should offer a ‘quality element of retail provision.’

Following inspired and inspiring speeches from various town councillors – including Alun Williams, who pointed out, to great public hilarity, that whereas most towns were trying to preserve their historic buildings, Aberystwyth seemed committed to retaining the ugly ones! – the town council debated and then voted unanimously on the following motion:

Last Night Aberystwyth Town Council received a presentation from County Council and Assembly officials on the new plans. Following the presentation the Town Council debated and then unanimously passed the following motion:

“Aberystwyth Town Council declares its total opposition to any potential development which involves the loss of fundamental parts of our precious streetscape.

Aberystwyth Town Council supports the original Masterplan proposal for the development of the old Royal Mail sorting office site.

However, whilst we understand the need to work with developers, 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.
We also call upon the County Council to conduct a full public consultation, similar to that carried out in November and December, on any new plans before any final decision is taken.

Council resolves to communicate this to:

The Cabinet of Cyngor Sir Ceredigion and all Ceredigion County Councillors

Economic development officials of the National Assembly

Our Assembly Members

The Deputy Assembly Minister for Regeneration

Council also resolves to engage with the Transition Town Group, Cyngor Sir Ceredigion and the wider community to explore alternative approaches to the economic future of the town centre which does not involve a ‘clone town’ economic model.”

Cafodd Cyngor Tref Aberystwyth gyflwyniad gan swyddogion o’r Cyngor Sir a’r Cynulliad Cenedlaethol ynglŷn â’r cynlluniau newydd. Yn dilyn y cyflwyniad fe drafodwyd y cynnig canlynol ac fe’i derbyniwyd yn unfrydol gan y Cyngor Tref:

“Mae Cyngor Tref Aberystwyth yn datgan ei wrthwynebiad llwyr i unrhyw ddatblygiad a fydd yn golygu colli darnau sylfaenol o’n tirwedd stryd werthfawr.

Mae Cyngor Tref Aberystwyth yn cefnogi cynllun gwreiddiol y Cynllun Mawr ar gyfer datblygu safle hen swyddfa ddosbarthu’r Post Brenhinol.

Ond, er ein bod yn deall yr angen i gydweithio gyda datblygwyr, yr ydym yn anhapus iawn ynglŷn â’r cynlluniau diweddaraf fydd yn golygu dymchwel cynifer o siopau bychain ac felly nid ydym yn medru cefnogi cynllun o’r fath, waeth beth yw’r buddion economaidd tybiedig. Credwn hefyd fod y buddion economaidd o gynnal cymeriad y dref yn rhai sylweddol.

Galwn ar y Cyngor Sir i ddatblygu cynllun sy’n gwarchod y mwyafrif o’r siopau bychain hyn ac i roi’r gorau i baratoi ar gyfer Gorchmynion Pwrcasu Gorfodol.

Galwn hefyd ar y Cyngor Sir i ymgymryd â phroses o ymgynghoriad llawn ar unrhyw gynlluniau newydd, yn debyg i’r hyn a ddigwyddodd fis Tachwedd a Rhagfyr, cyn gwneud unrhyw benderfyniad terfynol.

Mae’r Cyngor yn penderfynu rhoi gwybod i’r canlynol am ei benderfyniad: Cabinet ag holl eilodau Cyngor Sir Ceredigion, swyddogion datblygu economaidd Llywodraeth y Cynulliad, aelodau’r cynulliad yr ardal, a’r dirprwy weinidog dros Adfywio.

Mae’r Cyngor yn penderfynu hefyd i weithio gyda Grŵp Tref Drawsnewid Aberystwyth, Cyngor Sir Ceredigion a’r gymuned yn ehangach i ddod o hyd i ddynesiadau gwahanol tuag at ddyfodol economaidd canol y dref nad yw’n golygu dilyn model economaidd “trefi unffurf”.”

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