Cabinet will consider a major regeneration strategy for Porth Town Centre which outlines a number of future transformational projects – including a new Transport Hub and Station Quarter at the heart of the town.
Cabinet Members will consider a report on Tuesday, October 16, outlining a draft plan to deliver economic growth for Porth. It sets out a vision for the town, utilising opportunities from the Cardiff Capital Region City Deal with a focus on improving transport connectivity alongside the South Wales Metro.
The report outlines key challenges to regenerate Porth. This includes the current transport interchange, which prevents a seamless transition between bus and train services for users – while passengers must pay separately for bus and train journeys. The train station’s appearance could also be improved, while the Town Centre has many prominent, vacant buildings.
The report outlines the following vision for the future – “To transform Porth Town Centre into a prosperous and attractive town, which offers a wide range of opportunities for visitors, residents and businesses; anchored by Porth Transport Hub and a much-regenerated Station Quarter.”
The vision is supported by a series of strategic objectives – to develop a Transport Hub to improve connectivity to the Town Centre; to create the conditions for a thriving Station Quarter; to improve key Town Centre gateways and to support the development of housing and job opportunities. A number of projects are identified in order to accommodate this, including:
- A modern Transport Hub and Station Quarter: This development would present a transformational change for Porth and vastly improve connectivity in the Town Centre. The strategy identifies the current Alec Jones Day Centre site for a new Transport Hub – including bus interchange, taxi rank, cycle stores and train station links. The 1,700 sq/m site would allow the delivery of a new fit-for-purpose bus station, while a new ticketing system would link all journeys across bus and rail.
- Porth Plaza as a Community Hub: The opportunity exists for the building in the heart of Porth to support a range of Council services under one roof – to provide direct access to many services residents need on a daily basis. It is proposed to relocate the services currently provided by the Alec Jones Day Centre to the Community Hub, with residents and groups continuing to have access to the meeting rooms and activities currently delivered at the Day Centre.
- Additional Parking for Porth Town Centre: This would include new long and short-term parking opportunities in the town, to improve the quality of infrastructure needed to support the proposed regeneration.
- Extending the Park and Ride provision: The development of Phase 2 of the Porth Park and Ride scheme is expected to be delivered in 2019. It will provide an extra 72 parking spaces (150 overall) at the train station.
- Public Realm improvements: The strategy outlines the enhancement of Town Centre streets and spaces as part of the Station Quarter and Transport Hub plans. This will produce a more vibrant and attractive street scene, encouraging more visitors to the Town Centre.
- Town Centre Maintenance Grant: This scheme has proven a success since it was piloted in Mountain Ash and Tonypandy in October 2017. The new grant gives Town Centre businesses the opportunity to apply for funding to improve property fronts. In July 2018, it was extended due to its success, and introduced in Treorchy. The strategy for Porth Town Centre includes a plan to roll out the scheme locally in the future.
- Redevelopment of former Porth Junior School site: The development of new residential units in Porth will help diversify the existing housing stock, promote housing in sustainable locations and increase footfall.
If agreed, the next step is for the Council to produce an implementation plan for each project, including an indication of delivery timescales. The report to Tuesday’s meeting recommends Cabinet agrees to the Council carrying out a public consultation on the draft strategy. A further report outlining consultation feedback would then be brought before Cabinet at a future date.
Councillor Robert Bevan, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Enterprise, Development and Housing, said: “The Council is committed to supporting town centres across Rhondda Cynon Taf and we recognise the challenges Porth, like many other high streets across the country, faces.
“Cabinet will shortly consider proposals to consult upon taking direct interventions into the future shape of Porth to create a positive future for the Town Centre, which includes a new Transport Hub and Station Quarter.
“The main actions set out within this draft strategy are all targeted towards improving the future vibrancy of the Town Centre.
“These plans would dramatically improve connectivity to the town, and surrounding areas, through more efficient public transport. It would coincide with the South Wales Metro which, by 2022, will see an increase in the number of hourly services on the Cardiff-Valleys lines.
“In recent years, substantial regeneration investment has been delivered in Pontypridd and Aberdare Town Centres. Meanwhile, significant improvements are currently being made in Tonypandy – including removing the pedestrian-only zone to encourage better passing trade, and introducing new footways, crossing points, street furniture and parking bays.
“The vision set out for Porth, if agreed, would deliver significant improvements for the Town Centre. At the moment, bus services along Pontypridd Road and Porth Street are several hundred metres from the train station, with no accessible taxi rank or cycle storage. The proposed strategy for Porth would introduce an ‘open’ Station Quarter on the site of the current day centre, with excellent links to the train station and other methods of transport.
“The plans would introduce wider visible enhancements across Porth – for instance, fewer empty properties, more jobs within the Town Centre, more parking spaces and improvements to street spaces, and it includes Porth Plaza as an integral hub for the local community. These would all contribute to tackling the challenges facing Town Centres in modern times, including reduced footfall.
“I’m looking forward to Cabinet’s discussions about these major plans for Porth, and Members could agree to the Council carrying out a public consultation with residents, around these significant opportunities.”
Posted on Wednesday 10th October 2018