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Town redevelopment plan on hold

29 January 09 07:12 GMT

An ambitious multi-million pound plan at the heart of efforts to transform a town centre has been put on hold.

The redevelopment of the run-down Taff Vale shopping precinct in Pontypridd would have featured offices, shops, a hotel and apartments.

But the Riverside scheme was not thought to be viable in the current economic climate.

Instead, a new scaled-down plan, focused on retail, is being drafted for the precinct site.

Andy Crompton, of Riddelltps Limited, agents for developers Taff Vale Limited, said: "There are very few, if any, developments of that size going on anywhere in the UK at the moment.

"It's very difficult to secure funding in the current financial climate for a new development of this scale.

"We are working very hard in the background on an alternative scheme that we can deliver in the current climate based on the site we own."

Taff Vale shopping precinct has long been considered an eyesore by many residents and its redevelopment, originally put at more than £50m, is considered an important part of rejuvenating the town.

Mr Crompton said: "The existing site on which Taff Vale shopping centre sits is a key site in the regeneration of Pontypridd town centre and as such we are committed to delivering a new scheme."

A spokesperson for Rhondda Cynon Taf council said: "The Taff Vale shopping precinct has a major role to play in the regeneration of Pontypridd and we do have a vision for the site which has received wide support from the public.

"However, due to the economic recession experienced globally, we understand that our preferred developers are looking at other options in relation to this site."

The council said it had been working hard to improve the town generally and was committed to making Pontypridd "a major shopping destination for the future".

"Tangible successes, such as the opening of St Catherine's Corner, traffic restrictions in Taff Street and the ongoing streetscape enhancements are just the beginning," said the council.

Gianni Orsi, chairman of Pontypridd Chamber of Trade, said he was disappointed about the decision but not surprised.

"Given the current market situation, I'm not surprised. There was always talk about whether it was the right scheme for Pontypridd, whether it was too ambitious, too big," he said.

"I think a scaled-down scheme where we don't rely on one massive retailer - that would be terrific."

He said the original plan had involved residential flats but there was little demand for such properties at the moment.

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