Cabinet has agreed to consult upon ambitious proposals for major regeneration in Porth, which will include a Transport Hub and Station Quarter at the heart of the Town Centre to vastly improve connectivity.
At their meeting on October 16, Cabinet Members considered an Officer report outlining transformational plans to deliver economic growth in Porth. It set out a vision for the town, utilising opportunities from South Wales Metro, which will deliver vast regional improvements to the rail network by 2023.
The report outlines the challenges to regenerate Porth – including improvements to the current transport infrastructure which has a lack of integration between rail and bus services, while passengers must also pay separately for bus and train journeys. The train station’s appearance is also uninspiring, while it is located near 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.
Cabinet agreed to consult upon the proposals, and the public consultation will take place on the draft strategy. A report outlining feedback will be brought before Cabinet in the future for Members’ consideration.
Councillor Robert Bevan, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Enterprise, Development and Housing, said: “Cabinet Members have agreed to consult on major proposals for Porth Town Centre, which would dramatically improve connectivity to the town and surrounding areas through a new, inclusive Transport Hub and Station Quarter – taking advantage of the benefits of the South Wales Metro which are anticipated by 2023.
“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 strategy outlined for Porth introduces an ‘open’ transport setup, with excellent links between bus, train and other transport services.
“The regeneration strategy also looks to tackle a number of other current challenges for the town – including parking, housing and empty properties – while many vital services would be provided for residents at Porth Plaza.
“The Council has intervened in other Town Centres such as Pontypridd, through a regeneration programme and the acquisition of Taff Vale, while Aberdare has also benefitted from significant regeneration. Meanwhile, major 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.
“Porth has a distinctive place in the heart of the community as a gateway to the Rhondda Valleys, and the vision set out would build and plan for the future. Standing still for the community in Porth is not an option, and the South Wales Metro is the key to unlocking the Town Centre’s potential.
“The draft strategy is something the Council will consult residents on, and it will be focused on service users. I’d urge residents to have their say when this opportunity arises, ensuring the consultation is meaningful and that the Council can listen to any alternative views to the ones proposed in the report.”
Posted on Thursday 18th October 2018