New plans have been drafted for the controversial Post Office site in Aberystwyth town centre. The plans involve a five-storey development with 2,275 square metres of sales area on the lower two floors and flats on the top three. Crucially, all shops in the surrounding streets are maintained on the draft plans with the exception of the post office in Great Darkgate Street (pictured) which forms an access to the site along with the existing sorting office entrance in Chalybeate Street. Delivery lorries will access the development via an existing rear entrance in Queen Street.
Aberystwyth Chamber of Commerce has issued this press statement following a meeting with the owner of the site:
“CHAMBER BACKS DEVELOPMENTS”
“At a special meeting of the Aberystwyth and District Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday [22nd Sept] Mr Meirion Ellis Jones addressed members with a summary of events surrounding the proposals for the former Royal Mail Sorting Office site in the town centre.
“Members agreed that the Chamber should support proposals to develop the Sorting Office site into a property for retailing. Chamber members also acknowledged that existing businesses in Great Darkgate Street and Chalybeate Street, where the proprietors wished for their premises to be incorporated into any development, should not be prevented from doing so. It was stressed however, that any properties added to the original site should be on a voluntary basis by the owners and that support should be conditional on this basis.
“Chairman Cyril Baker said, “The Chamber would like to thank Mr Jones for meeting us and explaining the past events and current situation regarding the old Royal Mail Sorting Office site. The Chamber will wholeheartedly support a scheme that is fully consulted upon and does not involve businesses being forced to participate”.
The Chamber's statement is carefully worded and appears to rule out compulsory purchase orders on surrounding small shops for any expanded scheme, the threat of which caused so much controversy last year. However the threat was, of course, a County Council measure apparently required by the National Assembly as an assurance before their quite substantial funding could be released. Although the Assembly pulled out after seeing the weight of opposition in the town, the attitude of many on the County Council Cabinet doesn’t appear to have changed. The statement clearly still sees some kind of expanded scheme as a possibility, although emphasises that this should be voluntary and involve proper consultation.
There are actually a wide spectrum of views within the Chamber of Commerce on the Post Office site, ranging from those wanting a sensitive scheme preserving all the current small shops and architecture to those traders who would support just about anything on the site because their shops are in another part of town and they don’t personally stand to lose anything. The press statement represents an uneasy compromise between those factions.