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Labour sound death knell for our town centres.

August 24, 2013 12:16 AM

Welsh Liberal Democrats in RCT say they are disappointed at the decision by the Welsh Labour Government not to call in the planning application for the new town in Talbot Green.

Cllr Mike Powell says it will sound the death knell for a number of existing town centres

"Whilst disappointing, the news is not surprising, the Welsh Labour Government have a history of ignoring public opinion when it comes to planning in RCT. In this case they are merely backing the decision of their Council colleagues who approved the application and assigned land for a new town in the local development plan.

"This in spite of the dire situation our existing town centres are facing, not helped by the Council's dogged refusal to look at reducing car parking charges or business rates or anything else which could help.

"The report which the Council commissioned stated clearly that the Talbot Green new town would have a detrimental effect on trade in towns including Pontypridd, Tonypandy and Tonyrefail, and of course the existing retail centres in Talbot Green and Pontyclun. The Council keep proclaiming that they have spent £10million on the so called regeneration of Pontypridd, and yet they seek to negate that by giving this scheme the go ahead.

"It seems that the Labour party both at Council and Government level have little regard for the very real problems being faced by traders in RCT."

The plans are scheduled to be implemented in two stages, the first stage being centred on the provision of a new Sainsbury's store. The project will provide extensive retail space plus cinemas, restaurants and houses.

RCT Welsh Liberal Democrat Campaign Manager Karen Roberts says the scheme is in contravention of the Government's own guidelines and should not have been allowed to go ahead.

"In November 2012 planning guidelines were produced which stated that the Welsh Government's objectives were to 'Promote established town, district, local and village centres as the most appropriate locations for retailing, leisure and other complimentary functions.'

" Planning Policy Wales has a chapter dedicated to retailing and town centres and its conclusions and recommendations very clearly suggest that such a development should not go ahead. It says that 'Although there may be circumstances in which a new regional shopping centre could fulfil an important retail need, full account needs to be taken of all likely impacts and it is unlikely that opportunities exist for such a centre in Wales at present.'

"How on earth can they then turn around and say that this development can go ahead and they do not even want to call it in for further consideration? What is the point in producing policies if they are to be totally disregarded?"