Residents can now have their say on a draft Aberdare Town Centre Strategy, which includes proposed areas for future investment. Six public events will take place in the coming weeks, while residents can also take part online.
Last month, RCT Cabinet agreed to consult residents on a draft Strategy which sets out a future vision for Aberdare Town Centre by setting several goals and outcomes. The Strategy was compiled following early engagement with local residents and businesses – and a summary of its strategic objectives, future vision and key investment themes are included at the bottom of this update.
The public consultation got underway on Monday, August 7, and will run for the next six weeks until Monday, September 18. Residents can now view the consultation materials online, via the RCT Let’s Talk engagement website. It includes a survey that can be completed at any point during the consultation.
Paper copies of the survey, an executive summary of the draft Strategy, and the Strategy in full, are available upon request at Aberdare Library. Residents are also welcome to attend the following events in person to have their say:
- Aberdare Library – Tuesday, August 8 (10am-1pm).
- Hirwaun Library – Thursday, August 10 (10am-1pm).
- Sobell Leisure Centre, Aberdare – Tuesday, August 15 (4pm-7pm).
- Cynon Linc, Aberdare – Thursday, August 17 (10am-1pm).
- Llwydcoed Community Centre – Tuesday, September 12 (10am-1pm).
- Asda Cwmbach (trailer) – Thursday, September 14 (10am-1pm).
Officers will be available to discuss any aspect of the draft Strategy at all six of the local events. Residents are welcome to attend at any point during the times included above, and there is no requirement to make a prior booking.
Councillor Mark Norris, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Development and Prosperity, said: “The public consultation for the draft Aberdare Town Centre Strategy has now started, and residents are encouraged to take part online or by attending one of the six community events that have been arranged throughout August and September. You will be able to speak with officers about the proposed vision for Aberdare and the objectives of the draft Strategy, which is ultimately a blueprint for future investment in the town.
“This process is all about finding out what residents, businesses and other key stakeholders think about Aberdare – and to find out if local people agree with the investment themes set out in the draft Strategy. The early engagement exercise with residents was valuable to inform the draft, and the feedback received in the current consultation will be used to further develop the document before the final steps are taken towards formally adopting it.
“While we’re aware that town centres continue to face significant challenges, it’s important to add that there’s much to be optimistic about for Aberdare and across Rhondda Cynon Taf. The Our Aberdare BID represents more than 250 traders, ensuring there is a strong local business community – while landmarks like the Boot Hotel, the Old Town Hall and the Black Lion have recently been brought back into use.
“Just outside the town centre, there has been major investment for the Sobell site, the new Coleg y Cymoedd building, and the new modern business units at Robertstown – while Aberdare will soon benefit from improved rail services via the South Wales Metro. Cabinet has also agreed to look for a development partner for the proposed repurposing of the Rock Grounds site into a quality hotel, restaurant, bar and spa, including community use.
“The public consultation will run until September 18 – and I urge residents, businesses and visitors to Aberdare to have their say, whether online or in-person. The more people who participate, the more informed decisions we can make when planning future investment, to improve Aberdare as an attractive town centre and visitor destination.”
The draft Aberdare Town Centre Strategy 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.