Progress report on key infrastructure projects in Pontypridd
Written by Gavin on 10th May 2023
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet will shortly receive an update on the progress being made towards delivering major regeneration projects in Pontypridd, aimed at improving the southern end of the town centre and boosting trade for businesses.
At their meeting on Monday, May 15, Cabinet will consider a detailed report that outlines the latest position on the ‘Southern Gateway’ projects that are identified in the Pontypridd Placemaking Plan. These are earmarked for the former M&S/Dorothy Perkins/Burtons buildings and the old Bingo Hall site.
Investment in Pontypridd town centre remains a Council priority following the £115m Pontypridd Regeneration Framework (2017-2022) that delivered Llys Cadwyn and Cwrt yr Orsaf, and made important progress on longer-term projects at the Pontypridd YMCA, Muni Arts Centre and Ynysangharad Park.
Cabinet approved the Pontypridd Placemaking Plan last year to supersede the Framework and continue to invest in the regeneration of Pontypridd Town Centre for years to come. The Plan identifies several core ambitions, including a ‘Southern Gateway’ that brings strategic development sites back into use.
Project Update – M&S/Dorothy Perkins/Burtons buildings
The Council has previously announced its riverside plaza vision for the site of these vacant buildings at 97-99a and 100-102 Taff Street. The development provides an opportunity to improve the public realm and open the townscape towards the river – with the potential for leisure, commercial and retail use.
Welsh Government has approved £1.283m funding to demolish the buildings, with the grant equating to 70% of the cost. A demolition contractor has been appointed and preparatory work started on site at the end of March 2023. The main demolition phase is planned to start in June for completion by the winter.
The development will create better connections between the high street and riverside, open up views of the park, and include suitable infrastructure for pop-up markets and street food outlets. A much-improved park approach will be created, while the development will also add protection from future flood events where possible. A multi-disciplinary team has been assembled to create an aesthetically-pleasing design proposal that meets all these needs.
Project Update – Bingo Hall and Angharad’s Nightclub buildings
The Cabinet report confirms that due to the recent and considerable downturn of the economy, the high inflation rate and general cost of living rises, the Council’s proposed hotel-led development for this site has become unviable.
While the hotel proposal was supported in a consultation on the Pontypridd Placemaking Plan last year, residents and key stakeholders also raised the idea of the site being developed as an open space that expands the high street and potentially improves air quality. Alternative options are now being developed for the potential to create a high-quality public realm on the site.
Alongside this, the Council is proposing to use a small section of the site to create a two-bay bus layby opposite the railway station, significantly improving access at the southern end of the town. There is also an opportunity to better integrate bus and rail journeys – particularly with the number of train journeys arriving in Pontypridd due to significantly increase via the South Wales Metro.
The bus bays would potentially require large structural changes to the former Bingo Hall site. The Council bid for Cardiff Capital Region Transport Authority funding available in 2022/23 to develop the proposals. Officers have also submitted a regional bid for £930,000 funding to Welsh Government’s Local Transport Fund, to continue design work and start project delivery in 2023/24.
Councillor Mark Norris, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Development and Prosperity, said:
“Cabinet will receive an important progress update on the major regeneration projects earmarked for Pontypridd Town Centre, to revitalise strategic sites at Taff Street and further boost trade for businesses. The ‘Southern Gateway’ vision is outlined in the Pontypridd Placemaking Plan, which received positive feedback from the public last year.
“We are now entering very exciting times for the project at the M&S, Dorothy Perkins and Burtons buildings. The demolition phase will start this summer following funding approval by Welsh Government, and the buildings’ removal will open up the town towards the river for the first time. We’ll then be able to really visualise the proposed development, and the positive effect it will have on the town. A design proposal for the final development is being progressed.
“For the former Bingo Hall site, the Council’s revised plan contains two main elements. Firstly, it is proposed that the majority of the site is used to create a high-quality, open public space to expand and enhance the southern area of the town. This suggestion received a lot of support in last year’s consultation, and officers are now developing options to deliver a project of this nature.
“The second element is a proposed new bus layby opposite the train station. This would vastly increase access to this end of the town centre, and positive discussions were held with Transport for Wales over improving integration between local bus and train services – particularly in anticipation of 24 train journeys passing through Pontypridd every hour via the South Wales Metro.
“It is also important to add that the need for hotel space in Pontypridd is still recognised, despite the Council now not pursuing the hotel-led development. Officers will continue to work with the private sector and partners over an alternative provision, which will focus on existing town centre buildings.”
Cabinet will consider the latest positions of both Taff Street projects on Monday, and could choose to endorse their design and redevelopment. Members could also approve the implementation of development options as set out in the report, and agree for the Council to carry out a significant publicity exercise with the community and stakeholders on the next steps.