Ceredigion Council's Cabinet is being asked to agree to possible Compulsory Purchase Orders on shops in Great Darkgate and Chalybeate Streets as part of a massive new shopping development that would transform the main Aberystwyth shopping area.
The information has been confidential until now but has been put into the public domain by featuring on the Council Cabinet's agenda for Tuesday.
The former Royal Mail sorting office, behind the current Post Office, has recently been bought by a local developer with a view to Debenham's coming to the site. However Debenham's now say they would need a site significantly larger than the sorting office. The proposal is that if all shops surrounding the sorting office were also bought the combined site could accommodate a three-floor department store, three medium-sized shops alongside plus a multi-screen cinema.
A retail needs study carried out as part of the Aberystwyth Masterplan has suggested that a development such as this could bring an extra £4.8 million a year into the town. If coupled with the proposed extra layers on the Mill Street car park this could increase to £11 million p.a. A recent public consultation on plans for these sites apparently showed strong support from the public. However the latest expanded plans for the sorting office site area go much further than the consultation.
The proposal would need National Assembly funding in order to come to fruition and the Assembly would first need assurance that the Council are prepared to back the scheme to the extent of bringing compulsory purchase orders to bear on any shops not wanting to sell before providing this funding. The Cabinet is therefore being asked to provide backing for this. It is believed that displaced shops could re-locate to current empty properties within the town, although it has to be said that most of these are in a much less advantageous position.
The scheme would involve the demolition and re-building of a huge block of buildings from the current old Woolworth's site back to Queen Street going all the way down to Chalybeate Street. The only section of building left standing under the proposals would be the current Post Office facade which is subject to a Conservation Order.