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Rock Grounds development proposal progresses to the next stage

Rock Grounds 2

Cabinet has considered proposals to develop the Rock Grounds buildings in Aberdare into a quality hotel, restaurant, bar and spa – and agreed the Council will start a formal process to secure a development partner. 

At their meeting on Monday, July 17, Cabinet discussed the proposals to renovate and redevelop the current site, retain its buildings, and preserve the historic Rock Grounds building and features. The development would maintain an appropriate level of public car parking and also retain the Keir Hardie bust. The facilities complementing the new hotel would be available for community use as well as for tourists.

In May, Cabinet considered a draft strategy setting out proposals for the future makeup of Council office space – which will see the Rock Grounds vacated and become available for development. The Council has also started a consultation with residents on the draft Aberdare Town Centre Strategy, which sets out a future vision for the town, introduces objectives, and identifies areas of investment.

Key investment themes put forward by the draft Strategy include redeveloping and re-using existing buildings for high-quality visitor accommodation and restaurants – and strengthening Aberdare’s identity by enhancing the visitor experience and building upon the existing tourism offer. The proposals for the Rock Grounds development conform to both of these key themes.

The Council has recently commissioned Purcell Architects to provide initial concept designs for the proposals, which were included in Monday’s Cabinet report. The initial images show how the main Rock Grounds building could house the new hotel rooms and a bar, with the annex building being used for the spa. These designs will be adapted as the project is further developed.

Following Cabinet’s approval, officers will now progress a formal procurement exercise over the next six months, to secure a development partner. Monday’s Cabinet report notes that there are opportunities to bid for external funding from Welsh Government’s Transforming Towns Fund and the UK Government’s Shared Prosperity Fund, to help deliver the development.

Councillor Mark Norris, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Development and Prosperity, said: “The proposals for the Rock Grounds in Aberdare are very exciting, and would provide a much-needed quality hotel accommodation for the town and the region. The Cynon Valley has fantastic visitor attractions that will encourage people to visit the area – from Zip World Tower to Dare Valley Country Park, the Gravity Bike Park and the Penderyn Distillery. People staying at the hotel would likely visit the town centre with all it has to offer, helping to increase visitor numbers and boost business for local traders.

“The facilities of the hotel – the spa, bar and restaurant – would be available to the community as well as to tourists. The development would be innovative, high-end, and suitable for hosting local events and celebrations. It would be the latest addition to Aberdare after several prominent buildings were redeveloped with a mix of residential and commercial offerings, including the former town hall and the Black Lion pub. Bringing properties like these back into use is a key part of the Council’s regeneration strategy, and we’ll continue to look for such opportunities.

“Last month, Cabinet agreed to formally consult on the Aberdare Town Centre Strategy, which puts forward a clear vision for the town in much the same way we have done for Pontypridd, Porth and Mountain Ash. Officers undertook an early engagement exercise with residents and businesses which was effective in finding out what people think about Aberdare and how they think it can be improved. The strategy will ultimately be a blueprint for future investment in the town, and I urge residents to have their say on this in the upcoming consultation.

“I’m confident that the Rock Grounds development would deliver a distinctive quality asset for Aberdare Town Centre, boost local tourism, and bring employment opportunities. Cabinet agreed to progress the project on Monday, and officers will now begin a procurement process to find a suitable development partner.”

Posted on 21/07/2023