In need of long term solutions: Llanelli Town Centre

One of Llanelli’s most popular pubs back in the day is set to be demolished. The Ty Melyn (Yellow House), which has stood on Stepney Street for many years will  be demolished in 2018. Stepney Street and Market Street once had a thriving pub scene, which at the busiest times on Saturday’s saw people queueing to get inside. Discos, live bands and cheap beer fuelled the nightlife for the many thousands of people who worked in the thriving factories around the town. The weekend started on Friday and clubbers danced the night away at the Moonraker, Zenons, The Tavern, The Stepney Hotel, The Glen, Raffles and Baileys. Station Road was also a huge attraction for party revellers with pub crawls taking place in opposite directions depending on which side of town one lived.

Coming down: Crown Buildings

Llanelli is struggling to cope with the changes in habits of shoppers and drinkers as the industrial hey days of the past have long gone leaving only farming and tourism as the lifeline for work for many. The town has become an architect’s nightmare as a planless montage of mismatching buildings devoid of green links and incentives for businesses. The out of town giants have dominated the marketplace and beguiled the footfall with the joys of free parking within  a hop skip and jump of the shops.

Llanelli town centre is fighting back with the establishment of Ymlaen Llanelli – The Bid and it has had a series of young presidents of the Chamber of Trade and Commerce, on of whom, Andrew Stephens was the longest serving president in its 183 year history, serving since October 2009.

The new president is local architect and town councillor David Darkin. He promises to look at ways in which empty buildings can be changed from retail  to accommodate people. It is an idea being championed in Swansea as they look to become the city of culture for 2018. Swansea’s old buildings have been demolished to make way for smart affordable apartments and student accommodation. Housing Associations have also taken over old properties and they now house tenants.

Other buildings are set to feel the wrath of the wrecking ball including the old Siop y Werin and the Crown Buildings. The latter has led some to comment that the building should really be renovated and offered to people on the accommodation waiting list and to restore the shops on the lower floor for new – start up businesses.

The county council issued the following press release regarding the demolition of the buildings:

Man with a plan: Council leader Emlyn Dole

A RUNDOWN former nightclub is one of three buildings in Llanelli town centre that could be demolished to make way for new developments. The former Circles building in Park Street, which has stood empty and derelict for many years, has recently been bought by Carmarthenshire County Council from private ownership and they have just lodged plans to knock it down.

The former Siop y Werin on Market Street, and a row of buildings known as Crown Precinct – situated behind the newly renovated Griffiths Arcade – could also be demolished if plans are approved.

Demolishing these empty buildings are part of the council’s wider aspirations for Llanelli Town Centre to breathe new life back into the town. The council has driven forward several regeneration schemes to support town centre businesses including a £4million investment to buy empty premises and development sites from private ownership as part of its Opportunity Street scheme, supported by Welsh Government.

Council Leader Cllr Emlyn Dole has been at the forefront of Llanelli’s regeneration plans as the chair of a Taskforce he established in 2015.

“We have spent the last 18 months or so driving forward our aspirations to regenerate Llanelli town centre, and these demolitions – if approved – will be the catalyst for more development and better things to come,” he said.

“We are very much taking hold of the reins by using our own funding, and grant funding from Welsh Government, to purchase empty and unused buildings from private ownership and bringing them back in to use wherever possible.

“Whilst these buildings may hold good memories for many people, due to their poor structural state or disrepair, there is little more we can do than knock them down and make way for developments that are fitting for the town centre. We look forward to making way for better things.”

 

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