Precinct Plans Out
Even though RCT asked the residents of the town what they wanted for the derelict precinct site they have once again completely ignored the views of the people, just as they did with the environmentally-unfriendly Lido.
Details of the major plans to revitalise the former Pontypridd precinct site have been revealed for the first time and they are modern as expected, rather than a return to the old Victorian facade that many residents wanted.
I suppose this was to be expected as the London firms Knight Frank, Gaunt Francis Architects, and Atkins that the council has been working with, without going out to tender, have their own ideas how to profit from our public funds.
It should also be remembered that Ponty MP and Labour Party leader candidate Owen Smith voted for Knight Frank to work on the HS2 link from London to Birmingham.
The council did say that updates will be provided ‘when appropriate’, but have not provided details of the residents feedback or suggestions yet. (Doubt they ever will.)
So here are some artist’s impressions of what the new Taff Vale Precinct will look like as the developers seek outline planning permission – likely to be considered later this year, probably dependent on how well Owen Smith MP does in the leadership race.
No housing, rain shelters, greenery or public art?
Overall, the proposals want to allocate floor space for cafes/restaurants (450 sq.m.), non-residential use (1,145 sq.m.), assembly and leisure (1,145 sq.m.) and offices (9,935 sq.m.), even though most people who submitted ideas for the site wanted residential included that would overlook the river and Park.
A strange proposal seeing as Ponty already has half it’s non-residential units currently empty. RCT leisure services have been slashed across the county, due to austerity, and many offices and council buildings have been quietly sold off (at huge discounts) as staff are made redundant. Again very strange, unless you are a rich property developer who knows someone in the council of course.
The largest of the three buildings – to be built opposite the YMCA building (which plans to have non-residential, assembly and leisure use) – would have five storeys and would be up to 25m high, while the middle building would have four of five storeys and the smallest – opposite the old bridge – would have two or three storeys, up to 20m high in total.
The new buildings as seen from ‘The Wonky’
A new basement car park will be built as the existing one will be demolished and replaced with more or less the same thing.
Andrew Morgan, leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf council, suggested that the council wants to ‘change the direction of this key valleys town’, although he didn’t say in which direction?
Almost at river level, so therefore car park must be dug down much deeper?
The leader also acknowledged the multiple failures of previous Labour-led councils:
“Over the last 10 years or so, there have been previous proposals for the redevelopment of the former Taff Vale site…
“However, none of these have come to fruition…”
He also went on to add that that “An office-led development will bring hundreds of people into the town, who in turn will spend their money locally.” But not in the evenings or weekends which residential properties would have.
Should the council have gone for a design more in keeping with the town’s heyday or is a new, modern, carbon copy development of other areas more likely to bring people back into town? You decide.
Either way the town desperately needs something done and with Owen Smith MP having so many ‘grot spots’ under his reign as MP for the town I guess he and the council have to show something to the voters.