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Bridgend Council to address issues with town’s derelict buildings 

Bridgend Town Centre (pic: Lewis Smith)

BRIDGEND Council have said they will continue to tackle the issue of empty and derelict buildings across the borough this month, after discussions took place at the authority’s full council meeting.

Speaking at the meeting, independent councillor Ian Williams of Oldcastle asked members for an update on what steps were being taken by the council to deal with derelict buildings, particularly those based in Bridgend town centre.

In a written response, the council said that more than £7 million had been invested on the issues over the last 20 years, through a number of programmes that had brought several local buildings back into use.

These included properties at  11 Nolton Street, Porthcawl’s Jennings Building, the regeneration of the Elder Yard Scheme, as well as 37 The Esplanade, formerly known as Apollo.

In a later statement from the authority it was also described how measures had been taken, and resources invested into programmes to renovate and revive vacant and underutilised properties over the last 20 years.

These included the Townscape Heritage Initiative scheme, which operated from 2002 to 2020, awarding over £5m to 66 properties to support necessary works, as well as another council programme, Transforming Towns, responsible for awarding £2.275m in grants over the last three years.

However, Councillor Williams felt the answers given were somewhat generic, citing the case of the former Ranch chip shop on Nolton Street, which although still standing was all but destroyed by a fire in 2020.

He said: “My question was  directly related to Bridgend town centre and the dilapidated state of far too many town centre buildings.

“I refer specifically to the Ranch on Nolton Street, which is both dangerous and an eyesore and has meant the pavement being fenced off in that area for nearly three years.

“It’s also had a significant impact on nearby residents who are unable to sell their properties due to the disgraceful state of this building.”

Councillor Williams also discussed the situation with a long term empty building at 2 Ewenny Road, and asked whether Bridgend Council could potentially use compulsory purchase orders to deal with these derelict buildings in the future.

Deputy leader, Cllr. Jane Gebbie responded to this, saying that using compulsory purchases orders could be an exceptionally long and costly process, so its use had to be carefully considered before-hand.

Councillor Farr later added: “We aim to work with business and building owners, offering them as many options and as much support as we possibly can. A number of long-term empty properties have now been sold to new owners or are to be marketed for sale.

“Formal action against a proprietor is always a last resort. It is important to remember that there is no quick solution to addressing the empty property situation within our towns.

“The regeneration and revival of buildings is a long process which involves many intricacies. We see the result of the renovated building, but what is not so visible is the many months of work that has delivered it to that point.”

Bridgend council added that an Empty Properties Working group has also been set up to examine and support the most problematic buildings, which require a one council approach, as well as financial commitment.

Additionally the council says it is updating its survey of vacant churches and chapels at risk or in danger, and has plans to review all vacant properties across Bridgend town centre to consider offering bespoke engagement and assistance.