There are many different strands to the debate about the development of Mill Street car park in Aberystwyth. The plans by Ceredigion Council entail building a multi-storey car park alongside Tesco and Marks & Spencer shops. The scheme entails the demolition of Park Avenue Day Centre - to be replaced by a much smaller Day Centre in the Town Hall - plus the Drill Hall and the 13 houses in Glyndwr Road. Below are all arguments I’ve heard from different people, which just happen to fit into ten on either side.
No to the development
1/ There was no consultation with either the general public or Day Centre users before the decision on Mill Street was made. The Council has no right to make a far reaching decision like this without public consultation.
2/ Tesco rips off farmers and is a Trojan horse that is destroying towns around the country. There are 450 local campaigns against Tesco listed on the Tescopoly website, including 37 in Wales. They should be opposed everywhere.
3/ Aberystwyth doesn’t need any more supermarkets - we’ve got too many already (Co-op, Morrison’s, CK’s, Lidl, Iceland, Spar)
4/ More chain stores will turn Aber into a clone town, the same as everywhere else, and take business from our small traders that give the town its character.
5/ A multi-storey car park will look ugly and will bring more cars to the town when we should be trying to cut traffic and encouraging public transport instead.
6/ The new Day Centre in the Town Hall is much smaller and less inviting than the current one. If they have to pull the old one down they should replace like for like, which they are clearly not. No to moving until they do.
7/ Glyndwr Road and the Drill Hall should not be included in the scheme. They are part of Aberystwyth’s heritage and character which itself has an unacknowledged economic value that helps to attract visitors.
8/ A potential Compulsory Purchase Order on someone’s home (in Glyndwr Road) that they don’t agree to leave is morally wrong. That principle should not be broken. If sticking to it results in the scheme collapsing then that is the Council’s own fault.
9/ Aberystwyth isn’t central to Ceredigion and it’s unfair that the Council concentrates so much development there. More money should be spent in the south of the county [point made by people in the South of the County].
10/ We don’t want Aberystwyth to become bigger. We like it the size it is.
Yes to the development
1/ Rightly or wrongly, Ceredigion Council is now legally committed to the Mill Street development under European Procurement Regulations. Attempting to get out of it, or alter it, would lead to the Council being sued at huge cost which the taxpayer would have to bear.
2/ Those who want Aberystwyth to stay the same are deluding themselves. Nothing stays the same. The town will either grow or shrink. We have to choose which we want.
3/ Aberystwyth cannot keep saying no to development. If it keeps saying no it will get nothing and the town will go into decline. In practical terms, that means fewer jobs and opportunities in the future and less all-round vibrancy.
4/ Aberystwyth Chamber of Commerce, which represents small shops in the town, supports the development because it’s close enough to the town centre to draw more people in and benefit everyone. The anti-supermarket protestors say they care about the small traders. Why don’t they listen to them?
5/ Those people who oppose supermarkets are being elitist. Many people don’t have the luxury of being able to shop in more expensive small shops. They have to buy what they can afford.
6/ Tesco is a higher standard of supermarket than currently exists in Aberystwyth whilst Marks & Spencer will take us into the next league in terms of attracting shoppers. Both will take the town in the right direction.
7/ The right number of supermarkets for a town is decided by market forces, not by imposing some sort of ‘supermarket quota’. When there are too many, the least attractive will go out of business.
8/ Working mothers don’t have the time to wander from shop to shop. They need to get their shopping in one hit and that means a supermarket [point made by some working mothers].
9/ Improving the shopping experience in Aberystwyth could actually save carbon because fewer people from the area will drive to Carmarthen or Shrewsbury for their shopping.
10/ In the summer Aberystwyth’s current car parks regularly become completely full and the town’s streets are crammed with cars, meaning the town is effectively closed to further visitors. We need a multi-storey to cater for this welcome demand.