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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 April, 2003, 12:02 GMT 13:02 UK
Rally against centre rebuild
The Wellfield Shopping Centre is set to be demolished
The Wellfield Shopping Centre is set to be demolished
Shopkeepers in Bangor fear they will lose their livelihoods as a result of a redevelopment of the city's main shopping centre.

Tenants of the Wellfield Shopping Centre are meeting on Wednesday to discuss the 25m plans for the demolition and rebuilding of the precinct.

They are concerned they will not be offered leases at the new shopping parade if it gets the go ahead this summer.

Vicky Griffiths, manager of the Y Felin Bupur cafe, which has a lease at the centre until 2010, said that they were told at a meeting in November that the developers wanted major High Street names, not one-off shops.

Under the new proposals, the Wellfield Shopping Centre would be replaced by a new retail space for 13 larger stores and a multi-storey car park.

Artist's impression of the new shopping centre for Bangor
Artist's impression of the new shopping centre

Small individual shops have been a feature of the Wellfield centre for 40 years.

Sioned Bebb, who runs the Welsh bookshop Siop Pendref, said that while nobody was against the principle of developing the centre, she was disappointed with the proposals.

"The current centre is a white elephant which represents everything that is wrong with 1960s architecture," she said.

"But as a tenant and resident of the city I am deeply worried about the nature of the development.

"As a tenant, it is a threat to my livelihood.

"The existing precinct, which has up to 40 units, will be replaced by 10 large units, which means there will be no accommodation for small stores.

'Out-of-town retail park'

"As a resident too, I am deeply disappointed at the proposed design.

"I thought it would be an attractive building which was sympathetic to the city, but the plans are ugly and look like an out-of-town retail park.

"It will be a huge development right in the city centre."

Another shop owner, who did not want to be named, agreed with the view.

"All the small shops here are local businesses, many of them family run firms," she said.

"Basically, we are being made redundant.

"The design of the new complex is not suitable and will create traffic problems."

Diversity

Local councillors, who have not yet seen the plans which go on show at the town hall on Wednesday evening, gave the proposals a cautious welcome

Councillor Andrew Joyce said say it was about time something was done about the centre.

"It is sure to give the city a boost, more people will come here and the health of the city will improve."

But he said it was important to look after the future of the small shops.

"Over the years, the centre has been kept alive by these people and we have to make sure that diversity is kept."

Another councillor, Kathleen Thomas from Menai ward, said: "Something is needed there but it all depends what is put there - I would like to see better access but to keep the open spaces.".

A spokesperson for centre owners and developers Cathco Property Group said no decision will be made on existing tenants until planning permission had been decided.

Until then, they said, there was no point for people to get worried and that if and when the development goes ahead, discussions would be held with each individual tenant.


SEE ALSO:
Shops development plan unveiled
14 Apr 03  |  North west
Seaside shopping centre delayed
26 Feb 03  |  England
Restoration boost for oldest shop
26 Feb 03  |  England


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