Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council have been awarded over £25 million investment to transform Merthyr Tydfil Town Centre. Funded through a number of funding sources including the Heads of the Valley Programme, Targeted Match Funding and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Town Centre Regeneration Programme aims to maximise access to the Town Centre whilst developing a welcoming environment for residents and visitors.
In 2011, residents and businesses were asked to shape the regeneration programme. Over the course of two weeks, local people discussed the changes they felt were needed and identified the following schemes as priorities for transforming Merthyr Tydfil Town Centre.
Since the approval of the programme in 2012, work has been carried out to implement these key schemes and develop the Town Centre to become a place where people want to work, live and visit.
The projects that have been implemented include:
The Building Enhancement Scheme (BES) is available to businesses located within Merthyr Tydfil Town Centre. The scheme offers up to 50% grant funding for building renovations and improvements to external street frontages which are in keeping with the age and style of the property. As a result, the schemes achievements contribute to the general environment and enhancement of the area; creating a Town Centre that is vibrant and attractive to both visitors and investors.
Priority areas for the scheme were:
The scheme also contributed £2m towards the refurbishment of the old town hall. Now the Redhouse, which has been transformed into a vibrant arts and enterprise centre.
The River Taff Central Link is a new road system connecting Merthyr Learning Quarter at the existing Penry Street Bridge, through Avenue De Clichy, across the newly erected bridge located south of Swan Street, and then through a new road in front of the College and the newly developed college plaza. Many of the current traffic lights have been removed with the road being designated one way, similar to a roundabout, and limited to a speed of 20mph. This ensures a constant flow of traffic around the road system, priority lanes for buses and a more improved access into the Town Centre. This innovative gyratory system has completely transformed the town and greatly reduced congestion.
Access from the Railway Station through Masonic Street has been opened up to make a safer and cleaner environment that is accessible for wheelchair users and pushchairs. The former Railway Club building has been demolished as part of the development, creating better access to Broad Street Car Park and the Cafe Quarter, making it easier to move around the southern end of town.
Over recent years, the area around the Robert and Lucy Thomas Memorial Fountain on Lower High Street has been developed to create a community space where events have been held, including Christmas and the Olympic Torch Relay. This has now been developed further, extending the event space into the small car park on the left of Gilar Street. The larger events area has enabled the town to attract a wider range of markets.
A new three level multi storey car park has been developed in the lower half of the existing Castle Street Car Park, behind Oldway House. Accommodating an additional 250 parking spaces, including 12 disabled bays, the car park has CCTV and an open stairwell, making it easier and safer to park in Merthyr Tydfil.
As part of the Heritage Quarter development, a new civic square outside the newly renovated Old Town Hall has become a key focal point for the cultural identity of Merthyr Tydfil. The square has become a vibrant environment that will host events across the year celebrating the heritage of the town allowing space for community groups to promote their organisations and provide space for test trading. Traffic is still able to move from Pontmorlais through to Church Street; however there will no longer be vehicular access to Castle Street.
Work has been completed on three key projects to improve the Town Centre approaches:
The Iron Town Link is a new footbridge and path connecting the Merthyr Welsh Government offices to the Town Centre.
The Penydarren Viewing Platform, on the A4102 directly above the Trevithick Trading Estate, overlooks the original Penydarren Ironworks. Completed in November 2012, the viewing platform shows how the Ironworks would have looked and more interestingly, how they would have worked.
The Joseph Parry Gateway along Bethesda Street was completed in May 2012 and incorporates soft landscaping and lighting to offer a bright and colourful entry point to the Town Centre.