Merthyr County Borough Council has announced ambitious long-term plans to help Merthyr Tydfil ‘buck the national trend of high street decline’ and transform into a thriving town centre.
A team of urban designers, commercial property experts and engineering specialists providing transport advice have drawn up a 15-year Town Centre Masterplan.
The ‘placemaking’ plan envisages that by 2035, the centre will have high quality residential, office, leisure and retail, new plazas, green spaces and ‘an active riverside’. It says the aim is to create a centre ‘with inviting streets, squares and routes, where people feel safe, welcomed and uplifted’.
The document has been commissioned by the Council, Welsh Government and Transport for Wales – which was set up by Welsh Government to improve public transport across the country – and is described as being based on ‘a shared ambition for the town and its role within the Capital City Region’.
It was produced by design, planning and landscape architecture company The Urbanists, along with engineering consultancy Mott MacDonald and commercial property consultants Alder King.
Two key projects have been identified to kick-start the transformation of the town centre: regeneration of the old bus station’s Glebeland site and the railway station. The Council is looking at options for the Glebeland site, and will consult town centre businesses and residents, taxi drivers, shoppers and the wider community to help shape development.
“We’re very excited about the masterplan, which will complement Merthyr Tydfil’s unique assets with high quality properties and services and attractive public spaces,” said Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Transformation and Commercialisation Cllr Geraint Thomas.
“Work has already begun with the opening of our impressive new bus interchange, and residents will see a difference in coming months, with multiple exciting projects enhancing the town centre.”
The masterplan replaces the 2002 Merthyr Tydfil Regeneration Plan, which gave rise to the creation of Penderyn Square and the Learning Quarter, the refurbishment of Merthyr Town Hall into the Red House Arts & Cultural Centre, the transformation of Avenue de Clichy and the Pontmorlais Townscape Heritage Initiative.
Among the proposals are:
- Redevelopment of the railway station to create a welcoming and pleasant gateway and connect to High Street and the new bus interchange.
- Renovation and facade improvements to buildings on High Street and intersecting roads.
- Revival of the traditional townscape, with specific focus on prominent Listed Buildings of social, historic and/or architectural merit.
- Providing new opportunities to diversify in the town centre.
- Changing uses to increase the number of town centre homes, hotels and workspaces.
- Better pedestrian and cycle routes and a new footbridge to establish ‘an active, connected and vibrant riverside’.
The masterplan describes its ambitions for Merthyr Tydfil to become ‘the tourism capital of the Valleys and Brecon Beacons’ with links to the Cyfarthfa Heritage Area Masterplan.
It also aims for it to become a low carbon town ‘which is designed for the 21st century’s needs’ of low energy use and low environmental impact; a ‘waterside town which makes full use of its location on the banks of the River Taff’; and a ‘smart town…a digitally fluent town so that businesses, public services and citizens can capture the benefits of technology and the application of data’.
The plan concludes: “Merthyr Tydfil has great natural and recreational assets on its doorstep and can play an enhanced regional role with forthcoming improvements arising from the South Wales Metro. There is an opportunity to buck the national trend of high street decline and transform Merthyr into a thriving town centre.”
The full masterplan will be shared with the public in the near future.