Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting agreed that the Council should seek, “expressions of interest” from, “suitably qualified and experienced companies with a view to shortlisted parties being invited to submit their proposals.” Presumably they’ve got someone in mind. The National Assembly is in support of the plans as a key project to be developed under Aberystwyth’s Strategic Regeneration Area designation.
The Council’s plan is for a three-storey car park to be built on the site as a way of supporting the town centre with up to three shops fronting onto Park Avenue. The current Park Avenue Day Centre would be relocated to the Drill Hall in Glyndwr Road. It’s particularly important that this is in place before development starts.
Although the area covered by the plan only involves the current car park and Day Centre, the report notes, “this does not mean that interested parties will not look at assembling a larger site”.
I’m not opposed to the Mill Street plan. Some will say a multi-storey encourages greater car use but there’s now a strong consensus that Aberystwyth town centre needs bolstering to prevent people travelling further afield for their shopping. There are also plans to improve the pedestrian thoroughfare between Mill Street and the high street.
However, the mention of a larger site brings an unmistakeable feeling of déjà vu, remembering last years’ debacle over the proposed Post Office development which was, rightly, turned down after major public protests at threatened compulsory purchase orders on a large number of the surrounding traditional small shops. Being aware that an agent has been canvassing residents of the twelve houses in the adjacent Glyndwr Road about selling, I asked if the Cabinet could give an assurance that compulsory purchase powers would not be used to enlarge the Mill Street site. The Council Leader answered very firmly in the negative. Sometimes it seems as if they don’t want to help themselves.