CAERPHILLY town centre is set to benefit from “multi-million pounds worth of investment” over the next ten years.
From a new market to a wellbeing centre and even a hotel, the council has unveiled a number of plans as part of its Caerphilly 2035 masterplan.
Deputy leader of Caerphilly County Borough Council, Cllr Jamie Pritchard, said: “Caerphilly has a lot potentially going for it, and things can definitely improve for the better. We will work hard to ensure every avenue to improve the prospects for the town are explored.”
A progress report on the masterplan was presented to the housing and regeneration scrutiny committee on Tuesday, January 31 – here’s an update of what’s in the pipeline.
Container-style market, Park Lane
Construction on the new market, which is set to host 28 traders, is expected to start in March.
Planning permission for the market is yet to be granted, but the council has said it is likely to open in September 2023.
Hamish Munroe, the council’s placemaking programme manager, said: “I think it’s really important that a town centre has a good quality market.”
The current market on Pentrebane Street recently closed and the council has informal plans to demolish it.
A possible name for the market is “Y Ffos” which is Welsh for moat.
Redevelopment of Pentrebane Street
In agreement with the Welsh Government, housing association Linc Cymru has informal plans to build 74 apartments and a ground floor retail space, on Pentrebane Street.
The scheme is subject to planning permission and compulsory purchase orders.
The council has received “significant funding” from the Welsh Government to acquire the properties at number 1 to 15 Pentrebane Street, including the former indoor market.
Demolition of the buildings is expected to start in 2024, if planning permission is granted and the COPs are successful. The council has said construction is expected to take between 18 months to two years.
“Life-style hotel”, Cardiff Road
Plans for a boutique hotel were originally meant for the Park Lane site, but according to the council a hotel specialist has said Cardiff Road is a better location.
Additionally, the specialist recommended the hotel have 60 to 80 bedrooms because there is “demand” for a larger hotel.
It is expected to go where Sports Direct currently stands. Mr Munroe said this location would “maximise the views of the castle”.
Mr Munroe added that visitors would have an interest but also businesses. He also said it could be used as a wedding venue. Retail space is proposed for the ground floor of the hotel.
The report states funding has been secured to look into how to redevelop the site.
This project is to redevelop the existing railway station and bus interchange into an “exemplar” mixed-use transport hub.
It aims to encourage active travel, which includes public transport, walking and cycling. Mr Munroe said he wants the interchange to encourage people to think about their travel habits.
Changing rooms and public toilets are proposed at the interchange.
The wellbeing centre – better known as the new leisure centre – has recently received £20 million in funding from the UK Government’s levelling-up bid.
The council has said the existing Caerphilly leisure centre, which opened in the early 1970s, is no longer “fit for purpose”.
It is expected to include a gym, pool, spa and sports hall. The council is putting £13.6 million towards the project.
A design team, Alliance Leisure, has been appointed by the council. Construction is expected to begin within the next six to nine months, in-line with the UK Government’s deadline of completion in March 2025.
Planning applications for the project are yet to be submitted.
Flats at Llys Ifor site, Crescent Road
A prominent building near the entrance to the council-owned Crescent Road car park, Llys Ifor is expected to be turned into flats. There is planning permission for the construction of 29 flats and a ground floor café in place.
It is currently privately-owned, but the council intends to acquire the site following the demolition of the building. According to the council, the current owners have struggled to agree terms with a developer.
Lastly, two contaminated sites could be used to build 225 “high-quality” homes. The sites include the Thomas Ness Tar plant and J Pesci Scrapyard, off Van Road.
Investigations into the sites are being undertaken by the council.
Labour councillor for Cefn Fforest, Shane Williams, criticised the introduction of the projects in a “dire financial situation” and a proposed council tax rise of 7.9%.
Cllr Williams said: “We have been told that we have to have a county-wide approach and I think we need to look at these projects again.”
Corporate director of economy and environment, Mark S. Williams, said these were long-term strategies.
He added: “Caerphilly town has been designated by Welsh Government – not the council – as a town of significance. There’s a significant amount of Welsh Government funding as a result of that.”
Plaid Cymru councillor Greg Ead, who represents the Penyrheol ward, said: “We do need to understand that the majority of our residents live outside the town centre.”