02/10/2010

New plans for Post Office site


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.

7 comments:

  1. So, are they going to take down that building all together?

    I would have thought that, that building was one of 'The Buildings' that gave the town some character!

    I imagine that the signage on the front is quite rare, same as the old library sign, with it's deco lettering and interiors.

    I'm not surprised the Assembly pulled out it's a bit of a Toxic issue for anyone in politics.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I also think that it's imperative to preserve the post office building. Remember in the debenhams development it was to be the only building preserved of the lot! Apart from the obvious architectural aspects, Aberystwyth post office has an important part in the early history of the birth of Cymdeithas Yr Iaith Cymraeg, where the tactic of postering the windows of a building where they refused to provide services through the medium of Welsh was first tried. (And we won it in the end, in the case of Royal Mail)
    What next, blow up Pont Trefechan to build a dual carriageway bridge?!
    But its great that other small shops now won't be demolished

    ReplyDelete
  3. My understanding is that the upper facade of the old Post Office would have to be kept but that the rest of the building behind it could be re-developed. Bear in mind also that the plans circulated at the Chamber of Commerce meeting were a draft to indicate the direction the owners are thinking in at this stage rather than something that's definitely going to happen.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Current 3 storey structure to be replaced by a five storey construction? Will put Great Darkgate Street in the shade [ will live up to its name ]. It will also be lopsided. How will they fit 5 stories in some parts of the structure - that they own or can acquire and make them blend in with the 3 storey buildings that people in the block won't sell. How many 5 storey buildings are there in this part of Aberystwyth? Do we want [ or need ] skyscrapers in Aberystwyth? Anybody tried looking up at Aberystwyth buildings in this area? Shops on the ground floor are pretty bland but there is some rather special architecture higher up.

    I would like to see somebody sort out Burton's Chambers [ a major Council blunder ] - restore them and put them to good use - before the wreckers are let into Great Darkgate Street.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The original Masterplan proposal for the post office site says,
    "For reasons of comercial viability this may result in proposals that are slightly taller than the surrounding buildings. This would be acceptable subject to these proposals not conflicting with the other design onjectives for the site specifically or Aberystwyth generally".

    I agree, the architecture of Aberystwyth is underrated.

    Burton Chambers is a Grade 2 listed building. There are now firm proposals for refurbishing and turning it into new shops below with flats above.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Meirion Jones told me on the telephone that he had no plans to build 5 stories on this site. The Post Office still has a 15-year lease on the block that it currently occupies. The Post Office frontage is listed so it should be preserved.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Shame that a security alarm, air conditioning unit and an aluminium door facing have been installed on a listed frontage [ GPO ].

    ReplyDelete