THE PLANNED key development in Llanelli town centre has taken a step forward.

Carmarthenshire County Council’s Planning Committee has approved plans to rebuild five buildings in Stepney Street which are currently in a state of disrepair.

Numbers 2, 4, 4A, 6 and 8 will be redeveloped as part of a significant investment in the town centre to transform, regenerate and connect its key retail and leisure areas.

Once completed the buildings will accommodate commercial units across the ground floor with ten large two-bedroomed high-quality living spaces over two floors.

The planned building’s design will complement the character of the Exchange Building which stands opposite.

Chair of the planning committee, Cllr Alun Lenny, said the new development would see the return of the town centre’s tradition of outlets with living space above retail.

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Speaking at the meeting, he said: “This is a very commendable scheme especially as these are challenging times for town centres. Using underused properties in this way should reduce the need to build on green sites.”

The Market Street North scheme is just one of a series of planned developments across the whole town centre, where millions of pounds are being invested to improve the appearance of the main shopping district and attract more commercial interest and footfall.

The council has already spent £4.5million buying empty shop units from private ownership, renovating and bringing them back in to use at affordable rental levels – all of them currently occupied by independent businesses with tenants in the first and second-floor apartments.

A Local Development Order has been put in place to simplify the planning process for potential investors, and property development grants are being offered to owners of town centre buildings to improve the appearance of shop fronts.

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