Big screen success for West Wales town regeneration
Blake Morgan was pleased to assist Haverfordwest Chamber of Commerce take a significant step towards achieving its on-going aim of revitalising Pembrokeshire's county town. Demonstrating its commitment to the reinvigoration of the town centre, the Chamber instructed Blake Morgan's specialist planning team to formulate and submit a formal objection to applications for proposed out of town cinema and retail developments that it strongly believed would further draw life out of the fading town centre.
Whilst supportive of new business and strengthening the town and regional economy, the Chamber felt that the short, medium and long term effect of the proposed leisure and retail offer would be detrimental to the centre and contrary to the regeneration strategy it had been working on with the County Council.
Part of the Chamber-endorsed strategy for the centre includes a cinema development – appropriately located in the town centre to increase footfall and draw custom back into the retail core. The town centre had been identified as being particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of out of centre retail development and the proposed developments would (independently and in combination) be detrimental to the vitality of the town centre and stunt its comprehensive and cohesive regeneration.
Rather than simply object to the proposed out of town development, the Chamber was keen to promote an alternative within the town centre which would act as a catalyst to invigorate Haverfordwest's economy. Blake Morgan was happy to meet with the town's business leaders to discuss the strategy which would also support the planning objection.
An application for an alternative (and policy compliant) scheme in the town centre was subsequently submitted to Pembrokeshire County Council and approved by the Planning Committee with only one abstention. The out of town proposals were withdrawn by the applicant.
The matter highlights the importance of lodging coherent objections to planning applications that have the potential to damage the vitality and long term future of town centres. It is refreshing to see champions of the local economy invest in professional and expert advice to further the aims and aspirations for the betterment of their town which will lead to the wider social and economic benefit of the region.