Friday, November 18, 2011

Do we need an artificial town centre?

I wrote some months back about a proposal to create a new town centre in Talbot Green.  Well it seems plans are progressing and developers Valad, formerly operating as Scarborough and prior to that Teesland, have now roped in one of their old partners - Sainsbury’s.
“The project will see a host of new shops brought to the area including a department store, around 40 shops for high street brands and the major Sainsbury’s supermarket.
A new Leekes store will also be built, replacing their existing building on Cowbridge Road and plans also include a leisure and entertainment quarter with a cinema complex, cafes, restaurants, bars and a hotel.
In addition to the huge new shopping and entertainment centres offices, apartments and townhouses will be built.”

This development is in addition to the already substantial retail centre that exists in Talbot Green.  As I asked previously, what effect will this have on our existing town centres?  The Labour lot in RCT keep bragging about the £10m investment being made in Pontypridd.  Rubbish.  That is nothing but a cosmetic exercise – tarting up a few buildings, shuffling a few businesses around.  Where is the new business coming to the town?  And why on earth will people shop there when they can shop in the ever growing number of out of town shopping areas where amongst other things they can park for free?
Mind you there is no guarantee this will ever come to pass.  Scarborough or whatever they are calling themselves this year don’t have a great record of delivery in RCT as Mike Powell points out in this letter to the press.
They do have a record of producing plans that are not popular with local residents.  The Angharad Walk plans for Pontypridd passed in 2003 were flawed in the eyes of many residents as they encroached upon part of Ynysangharad Park. The plans were opposed by Welsh Lib Dem Councillors (including myself) at the time.
They have planning permission to build at Mwyndy Cross - an application which was met with huge opposition and was turned down by RCT Council only to be granted by the Assembly on appeal. 
So it will be interesting to see how this progresses.  The company seems confident of gaining planning consent – and with good reason, it has been written into the Local development Plan.  Mind you that document also talks of preserving existing town centres!  Everything to everybody – that’s Labour in RCT for you.

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