Pontypridd's Taff Vale shopping centre 'progress' after delays

Artist's impression How the new centre in Pontypridd could look after the scheme is completed

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A new shopping centre for Pontypridd, which has been delayed by funding difficulties may soon be back on track, the developer has told BBC Wales.

The Taff Vale shopping precinct in the Rhondda Cynon Taf town had been due to open this summer.

The old shops and tax office that had been on the site were demolished in November but the area has been surrounded by hoardings ever since.

Developer Taff Vale Limited said it is considering a new offer of investment.

The funding gap is the latest hitch in long-running plans to redevelop the site to create a number of retail units, bar and restaurant on what is widely regarded as a "1960's eyesore".

Start Quote

The roadworks went on for over 18 months… during this time, trade dropped dramatically”

End Quote Sian John Pontypridd trader

The private-sector scheme is part of a wider regeneration of Pontypridd, including a rolling programme of refurbishing paving, street furniture and other infrastructure which has been underway for around two years.

A new Sainsbury's superstore is due to open on the outskirts of the town this week on the former Brown Lennox industrial site, and it's hoped this will also bring more people into the town centre - though some traders fear it will have the opposite effect.

The told BBC Radio Wales' Eye On Wales they are struggling in the current economic climate.

Sian John, who runs Pepworth's Delicatessen, moved into Pontypridd indoor market after high rates, and the impact of the roadworks, drove her from her town centre shop - which is now occupied by a charity.

"The roadworks went on for over 18 months… during this time, trade dropped dramatically. It caused a lot of problems for a lot of businesses," she told BBC Radio Wales' Eye on Wales programme.

"One of the main factors were our high rates. We had a rateable value of about £18,000, which meant we were paying between £800 and £900 per month. With our turnover dropping, we couldn't sustain it.

"Basically, in June last year we had to move the business up into the market, to save on our overheads."

The Taff Vale site The old shops and tax office that had been on the Taff Vale site were demolished last November

A wide-ranging review of business rates in Wales, led by economist Prof Brian Morgan, has made a raft of recommendations which are currently being considered by business minister Edwina Hart. She has indicated she will respond after consulting with cabinet colleagues over the summer.

South Wales Central AM Eluned Parrott, shadow spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats on business and the economy, welcomed the publication of the report but called on the government to act promptly on it.

"This is urgent: people are going out of business today, they don't want to wait to see if they can survive the summer whilst the business minister thinks about the issues," she said.

"We do need to see some action actually happening."

Funding gap

A spokesman for Taff Vale Limited said they had experienced difficulty securing full funding for the scheme in the current economic climate.

Although they had an offer of funding from the Regeneration Investment Fund for Wales, this wasn't as much as they had bid for and left a funding gap they were seeking to fill.

However he said that an offer of new investment money had come forward, which is now being considered.

Several national retailers have been linked to the new development, including Iceland, Wilkinson's and Poundland.

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