Council Officers expect new plans for town centre in, "Weeks, not months" but Cabinet refuses to rule out CPOs

Ceredigion Economic Development officers today told the Council's Cabinet that work on a new scheme for Aberystwyth town centre was well advanced and that they expected something to be produced, "within weeks rather than months".

The officers were presenting a new report to the Cabinet following the abandonment of a scheme, after unprecedented public pressure, which would have resulted in the demolition of sixteen small shops in the town centre. The news about the timescale was based on contact with the developer yesterday. Officers pointed out that it was in the developer's own financial interests to move forward as soon as possible.

Since the controversial plans were first put forward many residents and businesses in the area feel their properties have been blighted with at least one house sale having fallen through and other owners putting off painting or renovating buildings for fear of them being compulsorily purchased.

However Cabinet Member for Economic Development Eurfyl Evans denied that properties were blighted. And when Plaid Cymru group leader Ellen ap Gwynn asked for an assurance that CPOs would not be used, Council Leader Keith Evans replied, "I can't give a guarantee that CPOs will not be used in the future".

The officers' report shows that chain shops in the town centre also opposed the original plans as well as many local businesses and individuals. Clarks, Clinton Cards and Dollond & Aitchison all wrote letters of objection.

The report ends, "The private sector developer has been invited to reassess all the options and to bring forward a development scheme recognising, as much as possible, the concerns that have been expressed. The developer has also been requested to undertake public consultations before the County Council can consider the value of any redevelopment scheme and any actions for the Authority to pursue". The report was accepted by the Cabinet.

One strong possibility is that the developer will now come back with a much more modest scheme.

The Economic Development Department's report to the Council Cabinet can be seen here: http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=12651 Click on Swyddfa Bost / Post Office.