Home » Plans for housing, a hotel and to redevelop a popular arts centre are among some of the major developments in Rhondda Cynon Taf that have taken steps forward this year
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Plans for housing, a hotel and to redevelop a popular arts centre are among some of the major developments in Rhondda Cynon Taf that have taken steps forward this year

UPDATED with more schemes from this year and looking at ones in progress as well as approved

Plans for housing, a hotel and to redevelop a popular arts centre are among some of the major developments in Rhondda Cynon Taf that have taken steps forward this year.

In the first half of 2023, some significant schemes have made significant progress and here is a breakdown of some of them….

300 houses on the old Aberdare General Hospital

An application for almost 300 houses on the site of the former Aberdare General Hospital were approved in February. The proposals were for for 299 homes on the site on Abernant Road in Abernant.

There were nearly 30 letters of objection and comments and concerns raised included planning policy issues, local housing market assessment and need issues, highways issues, infrastructure issues, trees and ecology concerns, amenity issues, health issues and design issues.

Planning officers said that, though the site was allocated for considerably more than the amount of houses currently proposed, the constraints the site faced in terms of ground conditions, ecology and highway requirements were substantial and justified fewer numbers of houses coming forward.

They said that impacts on the character and appearance of the area and on the privacy and amenity of the wider community were considered acceptable.

They added that the impact of the proposals on the ecology of the area and trees in particular could be managed through the development process,

Local councillors spoke against the plans raising concerns over highways issues and trees They said the impact on health in terms of the issues raised by objectors were adequately addressed.

On highways issues, they said the proposals had been subject to extensive independent interrogation and that highways development control had concluded that the details were acceptable in terms of their impact on the highway network.

But committee member Councillor Gareth Hughes said he was yet to see an application of such a size in such a sustainable location and that there would be an economic benefit for the town. He said, given its previous use as a hospital, that traffic movements would be similar.

460 houses at Cefn yr Hendy

In March, plans for 460 houses at Cefn yr Hendy in the south of RCT were signed off by councillors.

An application to deal with the appearance, landscaping, layout and scale of the plan from Taylor Wimpey for land west of the A4119 at Cefn yr Hendy went before the council’s planning committee on Thursday, March 9.

The application, which includes a “local centre”, went before the planning committee in January with a recommendation that permission was granted. At that January meeting, councillors expressed concerns regarding the relationship of the development (specifically plots 1-4) to the rear of existing properties in Bryn Dewi Sant.

The committee decided to defer it for further consideration to give the applicant the opportunity to revise the scheme in order to address those concerns. A revised site layout was then submitted on February 7 which removed plots 1-4 as originally proposed, to the rear of Bryn Dewi Sant.

The total number of homes proposed will remain at 460 with four homes to be relocated. A further consultation was done with those existing neighbours who could be impacted by the changes and no objections were received in response.

The planning report said that it was considered that the revised proposals responded positively to the concerns that were raised by members and the local resident who spoke at the January meeting and the view of officers was that the proposed revisions represented an improvement over the original scheme presented. The January planning report said the principle of the proposed development had been established under the original grant of outline planning permission and its renewal.

There were 49 responses to the original consultation commenting and objecting to the proposals and following changes to the proposals, a further round of public consultation was done which saw 16 more objections. Their concerns related to planning policy issues, highways and transport issues, amenity issues such as the impact on current residents, health issues such as air quality and the loss of open space, design related issues, infrastructure issues and ecology issues.

The redevelopment aims to protect the Muni’s heritage and celebrate its stunning gothic architecture by exposing the original ceiling beams in the main hall and many of the windows which are currently blocked. Picture from Rhondda Cynon Taf Council.

The Muni in Pontypridd

In June, the council’s planning committee voted to approve plans to redevelop the popular Muni Arts Centre in Pontypridd.

Planning permission and listed building consent were given for the Grade II-listed municipal building in Gelliwastad Road with the plans including the conservation and repair of the building, including the refurbishment of the auditorium, remodelling of the entrance foyer, bar, and mezzanine, installation of new passenger lifts, toilets, dressing rooms, and Changing Places facilities as well as a bin store and associated improvements to back of house areas

The planning report said that the building had been operated as an important venue for arts and culture for a number of decades however, due to financial constraints and lack of investment, the building suffered decline and eventually closed its doors in 2018.

It added that the council recognised the importance of this building as a cultural facility to the community and visitors to the region and a new lease agreement with an experienced third sector venue operating company, Awen Cultural Trust, had been reached.

It said the council acknowledged that the building would need investment to give it a new lease of life and to reflect both the value and significance of Pontypridd’s arts and culture in the quality of the facilities provided.

The building was opened in 1895 and functioned as the town’s Wesleyan Chapel and an associated Sunday School for many decades.

It later became a Municipal Hall and was converted to an arts centre in the 1980s. The building was listed in 2001 for the architectural interest of its Gothic exterior and for its contribution to the impressive range of buildings in Gelliwastad Road including the adjacent Municipal Building and St Catherine’s Church, the report added.

Potential for 600 houses at former Coke works in Beddau

In July, RCT council’s cabinet approved entering into an agreement with the developer to enable the draw-down of £8m of funding from the Cardiff Capital Region Housing Investment Fund for the Cwm Coking Works in Beddau.

The report to cabinet said Cwm Coking works is a strategic site in the RCT LDP (Local Development Plan). This proposal is looking to allow the potential to develop a minimum of 625 homes, subject to planning permission, and to remove the eyesore that is the disused coking works. Current estimates suggest that the site could accommodate around 650 new homes plus associated infrastructure, open space and community uses.

The report said that although the site has been the subject of previous planning applications, little or no interest has been expressed which would suggest that development would not otherwise be forthcoming for the foreseeable future without additional funding. RCT, along with a number of other councils in the area, have been working with Cardiff Capital Region (CCR) on funding to help deliver major residential developments that have stalled and without intervention from the public sector, would not ordinarily be built

The cabinet report said these are often because of a viability gap caused by prevailing ground conditions largely caused either by past mining activities or previous uses at the site which have resulted in a legacy of significant contamination

RCT has spoken with 20 developers and landowners whose sites have (or had) planning consent and/or are allocated sites within the council’s LDP but have not been delivered. Of these 20 sites, three were selected by the council for funding under the Cardiff Capital Region Viability Gap Funding; the former Cwm Coking Works in Beddau, the former Aberdare Hospital site and Nant y Wenallt/Moss Place which is near Aberdare Hospital.

Plan for hotel and spa at council offices in Aberdare

On Monday, July 17, cabinet agreed to start the process to find a development partner to help deliver a proposal which would involve turning the Rock Grounds council office buildings in Aberdare into a hotel.

The proposals are for a quality hotel with a restaurant, bar and spa. The report said that the designs allowed for reuse of the buildings, preserving the “attractive, and historic Rock Grounds building and features (including the Keir Hardie bust) and for an appropriate level of nearby public car parking to remain.” The designs show the potential for the main building at Rock Grounds to be redeveloped to house the bedrooms and a bar with the annex building housing the spa.

It also said that the designs “take advantage of the site’s distinctive location to provide the ideal setting for a quality tourism accommodation offer including a spa, restaurant and bar, marking the development as something that is unique, and befitting the aspirations of Aberdare and the surrounding area, as a tourist destination.” It said: “The redevelopment will provide new facilities which will benefit local communities in terms of the spa, restaurant and bar facilities and as a venue for special occasions and provide employment opportunities.”

The report said the council’s strategy for office accommodation looks to “make best use of its assets, reduce its carbon footprint, achieve value for money, and identifying direct opportunities for generating capital receipts that can supplement the council’s financial position.” As part of this strategy, the council confirmed its intention to move services and staff out of Rock Grounds Aberdare into more suitable, energy efficient accommodation and reuse Rock Grounds.