An interview with architect Peter Williams

Peter Williams is an RIBA architect running his own chartered practice in London and Llanelli.

Originally from Llanelli Peter has travelled the World and taken a keen interest in the layout of towns. He knows what works, what makes a town popular and what we as humans need within our towns.

He champions repurposing the old rather than knocking it down for the sake of it. He has developed his on comprehensive urban plan for Llanelli and has some harsh words for the council and politicians who he says are just following orders from central government rather than taking the initiative and breathing life into Llanelli town centre.

Peter was born with the talent to draw, and having a father who was a post world war II trained carpenter during a period that produced practical skilled people his interest in  carpentry and building grew as have his skills that have developed over the years.

Peter began by saying that the council should not knock down any more old buildings in the town. He said: “They (the council) shouldn’t do this, it is our heritage. I have looked at this town for 30 years and watched how it was ruined in the 80s. We have followed America too much. Tesco moved out in the 80’s and many followed suit hence we have a retail centre two miles from the town centre.

“I have analysed towns in Europe and America. We can’t follow America because they are different, they have vast areas. Humans are social animals, they want to interact and we are taking away the places they can do that.”

Peter doesn’t blame the architects who are just trying to earn a living. He said: “The architects are just doing their job trying to make money. Llanelli is no different from the area of South West London I live in, it is getting bad. People who live here deserve better. They want a better life not walking drug infested streets. There is an LDP plan 2018 to 2023 and Carmarthenshire County Council decide what happens in Llanelli. There are childish games going on with some councillors having and some not. Llanelli needs to get back its own control. There are people making a lot of money from these projects. We have to look back at what was done during the time Mowbray was the architect. A lot of Llanelli was flattened.”

Peter cites other Carmarthenshire towns as good examples of retaining heritage and making the most of the old. He said: “Every town has its heritage. Carmarthen is keeping theirs. Look at Llandeilo, it is an affluent town and has more going for it than Llanelli. We are losing some of the big stores at the retail park. Carmarthen were much smarter building their retail park so close to the town centre.”

Speaking about what is needed in the town Peter said: “They need to look at the GRP, the signage, the shop fronts. In Europe they manage that well, they have beautiful shop fronts. Llanelli had that back in the 60’s and earlier. The town had character. Sadly a lot of it has gone.

“They are going back to this style in Brighton. I have an urban development scheme for the town retaining a lot and creating green spaces. The area around the library is how it could look but we have covered the front of the shops with glass shelters. What do we need an arcade for? We have a beautiful arcade on Stepney Street. People are reminiscing about old Llanelli and how lovely it was. It can be lovely again. “

Peter questions the decision making and the destruction of the old in favour of the new. He said:
“Eastgate is practically a ghost town. Why build new again, let’s get the old sorted. There doesn’t seem to be any pride in the town. Why build a 140 bed hotel when there is nothing to attract people here. There is no logic to it. The town has got potential. The extension to Eastgate has come out of the blue. There should have been consultation. They are just creating more space for retail and we don’t have the retail here. Shops are closing, businesses are moving out. Why waste money on that when it could be used to encourage small existing businesses to grow. Lets restructure and develop the existing town bringing in green space where people can interact.”

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