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RCT Council to consider plan for next phase of Pontypridd regeneration

Written by on 22nd February 2022

Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s cabinet could agree to consult residents on a draft Placemaking Plan for the future regeneration of Pontypridd town centre – and could also progress the redevelopment projects at the former Bingo Hall and Marks & Spencer sites.

A report to Cabinet on Monday, February 28, sets out the draft Placemaking Plan which puts forward an overarching approach to how Pontypridd will look, function and is experienced. Having identified the issues and opportunities in the town centre, the plan seeks to create the conditions for a successful residential, office, leisure and retail offer, while taking advantage of the unique landscape of Pontypridd and ensuring that transport is a key consideration.

It looks to build upon what has been achieved by the existing Pontypridd Regeneration Framework 2017-2022, including delivery of Llys Cadwyn and Cwrt yr Orsaf (Pontypridd Extra Care), progression of the Pontypridd YMCA and Muni projects, and investment across Ynysangharad War Memorial Park.

Draft Placemaking Plan for Pontypridd

As a guide further investment, the proposed Placemaking Plan identifies core ambitions for Pontypridd – as a business destination, a great place to live, that it is connected and accessible, a green waterside town, a unique townscape, a cultural and social destination, and an inclusive and resilient town.

The report adds that five spacial areas are identified within the town centre that will act as areas of specific focus for future investment. They include:

  • Southern Gateway – significant redevelopment of key areas, including the former Bingo Hall and M&S/Dorothy Perkins stores, improving connectivity between the railway station and the high street. An improved public realm will open up the entrance to the town, and establish a riverside plaza. A range of commercial uses in the railway station is also proposed.
  • Town Centre Core – refurbished buildings providing workspaces, homes, retail and leisure uses, while a new riverside walkway is outlined along with better pedestrian connections and spaces throughout the town.
  • Market Quarter – a rejuvenated market building and a unique retail and leisure offer in an historic setting, creating a destination it its own right.
  • Northern Gateway – continued regeneration at this gateway into the town centre including a rejuvenated bus station, better pedestrian routes, and further workspace and mixed-use development at Berw Road.
  • Ynysangharad War Memorial Park – a heritage park with a natural riverside setting, diverse sport and recreational offer, a hub for cultural and social events and a base from which to explore the Valleys Regional Park.

On Monday, Cabinet could agree for the Council to undertake a consultation exercise with members of the public in relation to the Placemaking Plan – and to receive a further report detailing the feedback received in due course.

Progress update – Bingo Hall and M&S buildings

The report provides a progress update on redevelopment plans for the former Bingo Hall and Angharad’s Nightclub site. The vacant and dilapidated buildings were acquired (March 2020) and then demolished (August 2021) by the Council, thanks to a joint £2.2m investment with Welsh Government.

Expert advice has been commission to explore a range of commercial uses for the site to increase the town’s resilience, and it clearly supports a hotel-led development with ground floor retail use. Market testing has evidenced that there are developers and operators interested in taking this project forward.

Cabinet could agree for a formal procurement exercise to be undertaken by the Council over the next six months, to secure a development partner.

The former Marks & Spencer, Dorothy Perkins and Burtons buildings (96-99a and 100-102 Taff Street) have also been acquired with Council and Welsh Government investment – with the presence of the park and the bingo hall site in close proximity providing an exciting development opportunity.

Early design work commissioned to explore the opportunities for this site demonstrate a chance to open the town centre towards the river and the park – to provide leisure, commercial and retail uses at this location. Consultation into the wider Pontypridd Placemaking Plan, if agreed, would provide an opportunity to seek views on early proposals for this type of development.

The report adds that the former M&S building has not been maintained and is in a poor condition, which would further deteriorate without significant funding. The former Burtons/Dorothy Perkins building has been maintained, but the building itself is of poor architectural quality. It is therefore recommended that both buildings are demolished to allow future redevelopment of the whole site.

Councillor Robert Bevan, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Enterprise, Development and Housing, said: “Like many other towns, Pontypridd has faced challenges to its economic viability in recent times, which has been exacerbated by Storm Dennis and the pandemic. However, the town centre, its businesses and the community have shown incredible resilience – and there are certainly causes for optimism with footfall figures between October and December 2021 more than 190,000 higher than the same period in 2019 – before the flooding and the global pandemic hit.

“The report to Cabinet sets out the stall for the next phase of regeneration – aiming to build upon the existing Pontypridd Regeneration Framework. It has overseen delivery of Llys Cadwyn and Cwrt yr Orsaf, progression of the Muni Arts Centre and Pontypridd YMCA projects, and two phases of investment secured for Ynysangharad War Memorial Park. This level of progress would not have been achieved without Council intervention, with the framework bringing joined-up thinking and deliverable timescales for regeneration.

“The draft Pontypridd Placemaking Plan which Cabinet will shortly consider demonstrates the Council’s commitment to putting Pontypridd on the map as a regional destination – and to deliver continual and ongoing investment in years to come, for the benefit of local businesses and the wider community.

“The proposals focus on five spacial areas of the town and a number of key ambitions which take advantage of the unique topography of Pontypridd, with the presence of the river and park adjacent to the retail area. Monday’s Cabinet report also proposes that the exciting Bingo Hall project moves to the formal procurement stage, and seeks formal approval to demolish the former M&S, Burtons and Dorothy Perkins buildings. This would open up the town further and enable a significant new development in this vast space.

“If agreed by Cabinet Members next week, the Placemaking Plan would be presented to residents in an extensive consultation – in order to further shape the proposed regeneration so it best serves the community of Pontypridd.”