blank
Connect with us

Haverfordwest

Pembrokeshire Council to buy Haverfordwest Shopping Centre

Published

on

Pembrokeshire County Council is looking to buy the Riverside Shopping Centre, Wilkinson’s store and Perrot’s Road carpark in Haverfordwest, to support its ambitious regeneration programme for the town centre.

Cabinet approved the acquisition proposal on Monday (30th November) on condition that it is purchased is at less than market valuation.

While that process is ongoing, Cllr Paul Miller has moved to explain the rationale behind it and discuss some of the issues which have been raised.

“I’m really pleased that this proposal has generated interest and I would like to try and answer for the public some of the questions which have come up so far,” said Cllr Miller, Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Economic Development.

“I’d also like to try and explain how our plans for the Riverside area fit within our wider Economic Development Plan for Pembrokeshire.”

Advertisement

Why is the Council doing this?

“The Council has already developed a wide-reaching plan for the transformation of Haverfordwest.

“We’ve opened Glan-yr-Afon library and cultural centre, returning footfall to the town centre, we’re soon to start on site on Western Quayside – the former Ocky White building – creating an amazing food and beverage hub.

“We’re working on linking Bridge Street directly to the Castle and are committed to the wholesale redevelopment of the town’s unfit multi-storey car park.

“However, right in the middle of all those project sites, there is a fairly enormous space (in excess of 3 hectares) currently in the ownership of a single third party and that’s the Riverside Shopping Centre.

Advertisement

“Securing control of this site makes sense on a number of levels – not least because it enhances our ability to deliver on a whole-town plan. It also links directly to sites already in the Council’s ownership.”

If it goes ahead, how much will the acquisition cost?

“While negotiations are ongoing, and it should be stressed it may still not prove possible to agree a purchase price acceptable to both parties, I do not expect the Council’s contribution to the purchase price to exceed £700,000 including land tax charges.

“There are some maintenance liabilities we’ve identified which will be in addition to that sum.

“This level of capital funding is available from within the Council’s Property Investment Fund and so will not require additional borrowing. Nor will it directly impact on the Council’s revenue budget for other services or Council Tax levels.”

Advertisement
Artists impression of redeveloped Riverside Shopping Centre (Image: Pembrokeshire Council)

Isn’t this a bit risky, given the current economic climate?

“We’re going into this ‘eyes open’ to the worst case. Our worst-case scenario takes into account the current state of the market and the lease positions of the existing tenants.

“We know that more tenants will leave the centre over the next 12 months and we know things are going to get worse before they get better. Despite all that, our worst-case scenario still shows the centre to make a revenue surplus both in the particularly challenging short term and then to a greater extent in the medium term.

“The financial effect of the short term challenges are included in the modelling and actually the purchase price reflects that fact too. In addition, we anticipate further vacancies in the short term might actually be desirable, making easier some of the physical changes to the site that will inevitably be required.”

Isn’t there a risk this all goes wrong and costs us money in the long run?

“There is always that risk. It’s no different to the risk associated with running our current industrial estate units. If all the tenants suddenly disappear, you’re left with no income to use to maintain the site.

Advertisement

“In this case, we’re very aware of the risks. We’re aware of the wider market position, of the businesses under pressure and aware of the number of leases expiring in the coming years.

“The Council’s officers and advisors put together three scenarios for cabinet to consider. A Best, Worst and Reasonable case. We focused our thinking around the worst-case model and that has driven our thinking on purchase price and determined our appetite for this at all.

“That worst-case scenario still shows the centre to make a revenue surplus both in the particularly challenging short term and then to a greater extent in the medium term.”

Riverside Shopping Centre as it currently looks (Image: Colin Bell / Geograph)

Retail is a ‘dead duck’ – what are you thinking?

“I accept completely that there is no future in retail-only town centres. We are not purchasing the Riverside because we think we’ve spotted something no one else has and that suddenly there is going to be some town centre shopping renaissance.

“We do however think our town centres have a future, just a different future. The Grimsey Review (just one example of the many such reviews into town centres) is clear both on the need for local leadership and public sector investment in transforming town centres. The review also has as one of its key findings the following; ‘There is a need for all towns to develop plans that are business-like and focused on transforming the place into a complete community hub incorporating health, housing, arts, education, entertainment, leisure, business/office space, as well as some shops, while developing a unique selling proposition (USP)’.

Advertisement

“That’s exactly what this purchase is about. It allows us to support a whole town plan for transformation not to ensure Haverfordwest continues to provide what people used to want but to ensure Haverfordwest provides what people want know and what people will want in the future.”

Aren’t you interfering in the role of the private sector?

“We know that the private sector is not going to repurpose our town centres for us. We also know how the Riverside has fared over the years in remote ownership. In my view we have a choice. We either say we don’t care about the town centre and it’s for the private sector to sort out, or, we recognise the role which a quality built environment plays in the wider offer of the County – and in turn how that supports economic activity.

“What I want to ensure is that we provide the local leadership and vision needed to see a transformation happen in Haverfordwest. We don’t think for a second we can bring about that transformation on our own but we do, absolutely, have a key role to play. In this case, that role is in securing the asset upon which future regeneration interventions will be built.”

Will the Council be managing the centre, if the acquisition goes ahead?

Advertisement

“The authority will not be directly managing the asset either in the short or the long term. This will be done by others and the costs of that management has been included in all of our modelling. To repeat, even our worst case model shows the site always making more income than it costs to run.”

Why should the Council get involved in the regeneration of town centres?

“To start with, because no one else is going to. I believe, strongly, that the quality of key town centres is important for the wider economic wellbeing of Pembrokeshire. We could, of course, just look the other way and say this is something for the private sector but I believe to do so would be a mistake.

“I do not believe that the local authority can transform Haverfordwest Town Centre on its own.

“However, I do believe we have a clear role to play in support and through the strategic acquisition proposed we can make that transformation deliverable.

Advertisement

“Beyond the strategic acquisition we are already in discussion with prospective private sector development partners and we anticipate taking those discussions forward with more vigour if the sale is completed.

“We don’t have a dream of doing this all on our own – but we know we have to play our part if we’re to deliver.”


Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Haverfordwest

Withybush Hospital in Haverfordwest closed to ALL visitors due to COVID numbers

Published

on

By

Hywel Dda University Health Board has announced that Withybush Hospital is closing to all visitors with immediate effect due to increased cases of COVID-19 in the hospital, and the nearby community.

The hospital has said that there will very few exceptions, such as end of life or critical visits – and all visitors will have to take a lateral flow test before arriving.

Visitors are also being told to wear a face mask to the hospital, which will be replaced with a surgical face mask at the hospital’s reception.

They are also being reminded about the need for social distancing and washing hands as often as possible with soap and water or hand sanitiser.

In an online statement, the health board said: “The situation is being monitored at regular intervals and a further update will be made when visitor restrictions are lifted.

“We thank everyone for your understanding at this time while we work to stop the spread of this virus.”

Advertisement

Continue Reading

Haverfordwest

“Inspirational” Haverfordwest station retailer celebrates 60 years’ service

Published

on

By

A station retailer who has clocked up 60 years’ service has been praised as “an inspirational member of the railway family” by Transport for Wales.

Jimmy Summons, who runs the newspaper kiosk at Haverfordwest station in Pembrokeshire, began his career in the days of steam trains whistling past to meet the ferry at Fishguard when he was just 16-years old in 1961.

Over the years he’s seen Richard Burton, Prince Charles and Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II at the station and has served Lord Snowdon and Soldier Soldier actor Jerome Flynn.

And just a month short of his 77th birthday, Jimmy says he has no plans to retire yet.

“My cat wakes me up at 4:45am and I head down to make tea and get the papers ready,” says Jimmy, who has lived in the town his whole life.

“I’ll deliver to my customers around the town before coming down to the station to meet the early train.

Advertisement

“I love it because you never know who might walk through those doors or where they might be going, but I try to treat them all the same.”

Jimmy outside Haverfordwest Train Station (Image: Transport for Wales)

Having left school at 15, Jimmy worked with his brother before taking on the kiosk with a permit from John Menzies to sell newspapers, books and tobacco in the same year President John F Kennedy was inaugurated in the USA.

It was the last days of steam, before the Beeching axe had fallen on railways across Wales, and Haverfordwest had a much larger team managing parcels and wages from the site.

“We had some brilliant times over the years,” said Jimmy.

“I’ll always remember my good friends Dai Havard and Jimmy Morgan. The railway staff used to look after me when I was a youngster first starting and I’ve always loved being a part of things here. We’ve had plenty of fun over the years though there have been a few memorable moments.

“Once, many years ago, we had a parcel trolley fall on the line and I had to jump down with the rest of the boys and help get it up again before the train came through. Another time I had to warn the guard that a lorry had hit the railway bridge up ahead.

Advertisement

“Richard Burton came in while he was filming Under Milk Wood in Fishguard and got the train back to London, though sadly we didn’t see Elizabeth Taylor.

“We’ve had all the royals through over the years and I remember waving to Prince Charles and getting a wave back when they were off to an occasion at Picton Castle.”

Jimmy has clocked up 60 years working as a retailer at Haverfordwest Train Station (Image: Transport for Wales)

Jimmy has been married to his beloved wife Lorraine, 74, for many years and she too is still working, in a residential home, despite being older than some of the people she looks after.

He stopped selling cigarettes several years ago and has seen the book trade diminish over the years.

“Not as many people seem to like reading on their journey any more, which is quite sad. They all seem to be on their phones or iPads. But it’s nice that a lot of my older customers have started coming back after Covid and the papers are picking up more.

Transport for Wales Station Manager James Nicholas said: “Jimmy really is part of the fabric here at Haverfordwest and all our customers and colleagues think the world of him.

Advertisement

“The fact he’s up so early every day and is still working so hard to provide such a great service for our customers even after 60 years is phenomenal and he really is an inspirational member of our railway family. Thank you for all the hard work Jimmy and here’s to many more years at Haverfordwest.”

(Lead image: Transport for Wales)

Continue Reading

Haverfordwest

New conservation management plan adopted for Haverfordwest Castle

Published

on

By

Pembrokeshire County Council’s ambitions to develop a new flagship heritage attraction project at Haverfordwest Castle have moved a step closer following the approval of a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) for the site. 

Formally adopted by Cabinet, the CMP has undergone consultation with tourism and heritage professionals and the broader public. This plan is a key document that will guide the protection and enhancement of the site’s significance.

Cllr Paul Miller, Pembrokeshire’s Cabinet Member for the Economy, Tourism, Leisure and Culture, said he was delighted the CMP had been approved.

“Haverfordwest Castle is one of the County’s most under-utilised heritage assets despite being one of its most recognisable landmarks,” he said.

“The approval of the CMP will help to ensure that we follow the correct procedures as we work towards developing the site as a heritage attraction that will tell the story of Pembrokeshire.”

Advertisement

This site contains three listed buildings and a scheduled monument, and is located within the Haverfordwest Conservation Area. The Conservation Management Plan will guide the care and celebration of these heritage assets during development and into the future.

Subject to external funding applications, the proposals for the site will be developed in four stages to include:

  • More green space for visitors through gardens developed on the burgage plots on the South banks of the Castle and the creation of a new walk around the outside of the Castle walls with new access from the North and South;
  • A new route from Bridge Street to the perimeter walkway, that will open up a stunning view of the castle;
  • A new events space for outdoor performance in the castle’s Inner Bailey;
  • Refurbishment of the Gaol to host a flagship visitor attraction.

“Regeneration of the Castle is anticipated to breathe new life into our valuable local heritage, creating a more attractive place where people can spend time. It will also provide Haverfordwest and Pembrokeshire with a quality destination for visitors,” added Cllr Miller.

“As the County Councillor for the Castle Ward I welcome this news and am very pleased of the approval of a Conservation Management Plan for the site,” added Cllr Thomas Tudor.

“Together with the new Castle Square and Castle Lake link, this can only further develop and enhance this part of Haverfordwest to the benefit of its townspeople and visitors to the county town of Pembrokeshire, providing a beautiful green space for the community and visitors to enjoy.”

Advertisement

(Lead image: Pembrokeshire Council)

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2021 Swansea Bay News