PEMBROKE is not a forgotten town, despite seeing decades of neglect at its historic castle-side centre, a senior councillor said earlier this week.
Members of Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet, meeting on April 24, heard an update on the £20m South Quay development by Pembroke Castle.
Led by Pembrokeshire County Council, the £20,335,076 South Quay project centres on the rebuild of formerly derelict properties on Castle Terrace to create a new public visitor centre, library and café.
Landscape and public realm enhancements will bring the burgage plots back into productive use.
The second phase of the project will regenerate properties in Northgate Terrace to create a new centre providing local support, training and activities for members of the community who may be disadvantaged due to social or health challenges.
The programme is currently under review but it is anticipated all works will be completed by 2025.
Speaking at the April 24 meeting, Cabinet Member for Place, the Region and Climate Change Councillor Paul Miller said South Quay was a “very important part of our regeneration agenda”.
Detailing a history of building acquisition at the site going back decades, he added: “A number of buildings in that cluster are listed and there are some that would suggest, to have left them deteriorate like the previous administration did for two decades, was negligent in the extreme; indeed, under listed buildings the authority should have been serving repair notices upon itself, that’s not what happened.”
He said the current administration was determined to regenerate Pembroke.
“Pembroke is – or should be – a jewel in the crown of the county of Pembrokeshire; I’m determined we will do everything we possibly can to help that community regenerate that town.
“We can’t do that if we leave super-prominent cluster of buildings right adjacent to the castle in the centre of Pembroke looking dreadful while they gently fall down.
“We are determined to support Pembroke and invest in it; we have created a scheme that’s capable of attracting external funding, and we’re delivering.”
He added: “Because of that neglect this has been a challenging programme. For me, this is very much about saying to Pembroke: ‘You’re not forgotten, you’re not neglected’.”
Pembroke councillor Jon Harvey said: “This is an absolutely crucial scheme for Pembroke and the commitment that’s been shown by this administration to move this project should not be underestimated, given the state those buildings were in, gong to wrack and ruin.
“It will energise – I believe – Pembroke town; the first part of Pembrokeshire is Pembroke, it will enhance the visitor attraction; at the moment you come to Pembroke to look at the castle and what do you see next to it? Dilapidated buildings.”
For detractors of the scheme he posed a question: “What the team have done is secured massive amounts of grant aid into this, it is not all being paid out of council tax. Those that knock these schemes, what are you going to do? Are you going to allow our towns to slowly decay? Which is what will happen.”
Council Leader David Simpson said: “When they talk about neglect over the years, from what I understand neglect of a listed building is actually a criminal offence, what we don’t to do as a local authority is committing crimes; and getting done for it in court.
“The people of Pembroke deserve it, I’m sure they don’t want tatty buildings in their town.
“I’m sure everybody is behind this scheme; it has to be done for the people of Pembroke and Pembrokeshire.”
The £20,335,076 South Quay project is subject to two key external funding grants: Welsh Government Transforming Towns Fund for phase 1, and UK Government Levelling up Fund for Phase 2.
Funds secured are: Welsh Government Transforming Towns Fund £3,425,000, Welsh Government Transformation Capital Grant Programme (Library) £250,000, Heritage Centre fit out £992,324.00. South Quay Phase 2 (Northgate Street) UK Government Levelling Up Fund 4,168,823.00
The project is proceeding under recommendations approved by the December 5 Cabinet, which approved an addition of £6.568m for South Quay projects: £2,902m for South Quay Redevelopment and £3.666m (including fit-out) for LUF South Quay project.
The project has involved emergency works to make nearby pub the Royal George safe the demolition of 8 Northgate Street.
Cabinet members agreed that the progress report, including updated programme dates, be noted, and that a further report on costs and contractor appointment be presented to Cabinet in July, and that authority be delegated to the Assistant Chief Executive to agree and execute any agreement with Carmarthenshire County Council required to progress Levelling Up Funding (LUF) of Phase 2 of the scheme.