THIS IS A LETTER WRITTEN BY ALUN WILLIAMS IN RESPONSE TO THE ABERYSTWYTH MASTERPLAN PROPOSALS
Firstly, I view this as a hugely positive document that the town has needed for some time. I fully support the high profile given to environmental issues, reducing the impact of cars and making the town more attractive for pedestrians and cyclists. I also support the criticism of the quality of recent developments and the call for higher standards in future.
Specific ideas I want to applaud are:
* Ensuring residents have an opportunity to park close to their homes – I very much hope this will give impetus to the Council’s consideration of residents’ parking and decriminalization.
* Attractive pedestrian and cycle routes and a layout that make non-car use an attractive choice
* The promotion of a rail shuttle and rail freight.
* The importance of Plas Crug Avenue and the possibility of extending it
* Improved access to Parc Natur Penglais from the town
* The identification of the potential of the harbour area
* The need for a ‘village centre’ in Penparcau
* Recognising and protecting existing quality streets, spaces and buildings – the architecture of Aberystwyth is impressive in many places but largely ignored at present
making more of assets such as the river corridor, coastline, green spaces and surrounding hills;
* A river walk-way between Trefechan Bridge and Pont yr Odyn
* The need to improve Glanyrafon Industrial Estate - there is no reason why industrial estates should be bleak and ugly, especially one next to a river. At the moment the roads on the estate don’t even have names.
Perhaps inevitably, I’ll spend a little more space commenting on the negative or questionable aspects of the plan as I see them but these should be taken in the context of my overall support for the plan.
North Road / Queens Road Tennis / Bowling Area
It’s difficult to see how the existing well-used open space uses can be maintained if the site is substantially re-developed. It should be borne in mind that there is currently a very attractive view over the bowling greens from North Road and this should be maintained.
The Arts are given very little attention in the Plan, despite a superb Arts Centre and the presence of many nationally (Wales) important artists in the area. There is currently a group of local artists, some well-known, who are looking into the possibility of turning the Old Police Yard in Queens Road into a space for artists to use and exhibit. The town is much in need of a town centre place for them to work and display. I know they would be delighted to talk to LDA about their ideas.
I was interested to hear in the verbal presentation that the team had not been fully convinced of the need for this. Since the mini-roundabouts were placed at the Llanbadarn junction it has become clear that what was previously thought of as an impossible junction to make good has now become far less of a blockage to the system.
I’m sure you are familiar with the idea that bypasses can create more traffic. I’m not at all sure that a bypass would have the effect on Llanbadarn that some people are hoping for, particularly if a Park & Ride and the football club are placed there as part of the package. I also note that the road through Llanbadarn is identified as a strategic route to the seafront.
Blaendolau and the Football Club
I’m not sure how the proposal to move the football club fits with the mention of the importance of protecting the integrity of the Blaendolau open space.
At the moment the vast majority of people attending football matches walk to the ground. Moving it to the outskirts of the town would immediately change attending football matches and the other activities held at the club to car-based activities. In addition there would be a net loss of playing field to the town.
It should be remembered that Blaendolau is one of the best quality training and tournament facilities in Wales. Various sports tournaments are held there. One of these, the ‘Ian Rush Tournament’, due to be held there in only a couple of weeks time, attracts youth football teams from all over the world, bringing considerable economic benefit. The Welsh Football Association bring professional players there to undertake their senior coaching qualification.
The loss of a significant amount of this quality sporting space to the town by moving the football club would be badly felt. My preference would be to substantially develop the existing football club site around the club itself.
Moving the Station
I understand the rationale for this but would need some convincing. The current location places the railway terminus perfectly in the heart of the town where, in an environmentally sustainable transport infrastructure, it should surely belong. I would prefer to see creative use made of the land alongside the line coupled with walkways across. The difficulties of negotiating with the railway authorities about any changes at all are, of course, well-known.
Areas of the Town
Dividing the town into zones has been a useful exercise. However I think you have missed the distinctive character of the streets on the Buarth and around the eastern side of Bronglais Hospital and also the existence of Trefechan as a community.
I hope you take these comments into consideration. I’m looking forward to when the more detailed sections of the Plans are released. Once again I’d like to say that I think the Masterplan makes a very welcome contribution to Aberystwyth’s future..
County Councillor, Bronglais Ward, Aberystwyth