THE FORMER Debenhams department store in St Catherine’s Walk has been revealed as the preferred location for the exciting new Carmarthen Hwb, which will bring together a range of health, wellbeing, learning and cultural services in the heart of the town centre.
Carmarthenshire County Council, working with Hywel Dda University Health Board and University of Wales Trinity Saint David, are progressing at pace with plans to deliver their key strategic project after securing over £15million from the UK Government’s Levelling Up fund.
The development, which is earmarked for over £3.5million match funding from Carmarthenshire County Council’s capital programme, aims to support people of all ages to access key services all under one roof.
Bringing the prominent redundant retail unit back into use, the project will support the transformation and economic resilience of the town centre by delivering a new mix of services to the high street, attracting more people and helping increase footfall for neighbouring shops and businesses.
People will be able to call in to the Carmarthen Hwb to access health and social care services, a state of the art gym; access to employment support and public services; as well as university facilities and lifelong learning opportunities.
It is hoped the Hwb will also become a new publicly-accessible and central home for some of Carmarthenshire’s museum collections, an exciting exhibition space, and a welcome point for visitors to the town.
Carmarthenshire County Council is progressing well with talks to secure the building and with funding and key partners all on board, hopes to begin transforming the space by the end of this year with completion expected in Spring 2024.
Cllr Emlyn Dole, Leader of the council and Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “This is an exciting opportunity to transform the high street and benefit the people and businesses of Carmarthenshire. It fits perfectly with our aspirations to repurpose Carmarthen town centre – a need highlighted in the Carmarthen town centre recovery plan which we have recently endorsed.
“Not only will the Hwb support the vibrancy and sustainability of our town centre, it will improve the quality of life for local people and create an attraction for our many visitors.
“We are now working at full steam to deliver this project. We’ve got the funding lined up, and partners on board. We’re holding very positive talks with the owners of St Catherine’s Walk, and we’re already out to tender for contractors to design the Hwb and progress the scheme through planning.
“This is a significant prominent building occupying a prime spot in Carmarthen town centre and we’re excited to be bringing it back in to use with something so unique.”
The re-development of the former department store will bring almost 6,000 square metres of prime commercial space back into use.
Lee Davies, Director of Strategic Development and Operational Planning for Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “The health board is excited to support the development of a centre for health, wellbeing, culture and learning in partnership with Carmarthenshire County Council and University of Wales Trinity St David, which aligns with our Healthier Mid and West Wales Strategy and improves the quality of life for the residents of Carmarthen and the wider catchment area.
“The project will help to promote preventative healthcare and creatively link this with arts, learning, community, health, sports and leisure services.”
Professor Medwin Hughes, DL, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, added: “The University is delighted to be part of this exciting project. It offers a unique opportunity to collaborate with partners to revitalise our town centres by offering a mix of leisure, cultural and education opportunities to benefit residents and businesses. The University looks forward to working with Carmarthenshire County Council on realising the vision for the Carmarthen Hwb.”
The Carmarthen Hwb project is being delivered alongside a similar Hwb project at South Quay, in Pembroke town centre, which formed part of the bid to the Levelling Up Fund.