Cabinet Members have agreed to consult residents on a draft Aberdare Town Centre Strategy which sets out a future vision for the town, introduces clear objectives, and identifies several areas of investment.
At its meeting on Wednesday, June 28, Cabinet considered the draft strategy which was informed by early engagement with the public and stakeholders between October 2022 and February 2023. Members agreed with the officer recommendations to carry out a formal consultation on the draft strategy – which will take place over a six-week period, starting in summer 2023.
The Council will provide an online survey via the RCT Let’s Talk engagement website, to be promoted on the Council’s social media and advertised locally in the town centre. Hard copies will be placed at Aberdare Library and other community locations, while community ‘drop-in’ sessions will also be held.
More details about the strategy’s vision for Aberdare, along with its strategic objectives and six investment themes, are included at the bottom of this page.
Councillor Mark Norris, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Development and Prosperity, said: “Cabinet has agreed to a six-week consultation on the draft Aberdare Town Centre Strategy, which outlines a clear future vision for the town and proposes how this can be achieved via strategic objectives. It aims to set a formal blueprint for future investment, in a similar way to strategies produced for Pontypridd, Porth and Mountain Ash.
“Officers received invaluable feedback in an early engagement exercise from October to February, and I’d like to thank the community for their input. The process was about finding out what people think of Aberdare, by highlighting its strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. This theme will continue in the upcoming consultation, with a focus on the objectives in the draft strategy.
“All town centres continue to face huge challenges from the pandemic and the cost of living crisis, and it is important to acknowledge that Aberdare has also suffered from the departure of important assets such as some national retail stores and banks.
“However, there is also much to be optimistic about. Aberdare has a strong business community driven by the Our Aberdare BID, which represents more than 250 businesses and works with the Council on a range of projects. Many prominent town centre properties have also had investment and been brought back into use – such as the Boot Hotel, the Old Town Hall and the Black Lion.
“Aberdare received significant funding for other major projects, including just outside of the town centre – the Sobell education and leisure facilities, the state-of-the-art Coleg y Cymoedd building, and the modern business units at Robertstown, which have all been delivered in recent years. Soon, Aberdare will also benefit from faster, more frequent rail services under the South Wales Metro.
“I urge members of the community to have their say on the draft Aberdare Town Centre Strategy in the upcoming consultation, to let us know how to continue to build upon the momentum created through recent investment. The Council will let residents know how to get involved, either online or in person. The process is set to get underway this summer.”
The early engagement exercise drew upon the local knowledge of residents and businesses to gain a better understanding of how the town is perceived. The process included a survey and workshops – and was considered by the Climate Change, Frontline Services and Prosperity Scrutiny Committee.
The report to Cabinet on Wednesday notes a clear finding from this exercise – that Aberdare Town Centre must increase what is ‘on offer’ to fulfil its potential as a principal town. The draft strategy therefore sets out the following vision:
“To build upon Aberdare’s unique heritage and strategic location to create a more vibrant, dynamic and attractive destination for both local residents and visitors to the area”. Its strategic objectives include:
- Improving sustainability by increasing footfall and capturing a greater share of visitor spend.
- Maximising the use of town centre sites and premises to diversify the range of services and amenities.
- Improving the safe use of public spaces at street level, and providing better connections to nearby destinations.
- Supporting the development of a greater variety of businesses within the town for both visitors and local needs.
- Enhancing the town centre’s overall appearance and identity.
Six investment themes have been put forward to help deliver these objectives:
- Redeveloping and re-using existing buildings for high-quality restaurants, visitor accommodation, workspaces, and a unique retail offer.
- Working with businesses and the community to bring Aberdare’s story to life, making the town’s offer and heritage more visible, and strengthening its conservation area.
- Strengthening the town’s identity as a desirable place to live, work and visit by enhancing the visitor experience, and building upon the existing tourism offer.
- Improving and promoting walking/cycling routes and improved signage, including to nearby destinations.
- Further enhancing town centre open spaces, supporting biodiversity, creating high-quality spaces for new businesses and leisure opportunities, and hosting more events.
- Exploring local partnerships and building on the good work of the Our Aberdare Business Improvement District (BID) to establish new initiatives and further support businesses.