Welsh Liberal Democrat Councillor Mike Powell spoke and voted against the proposal to build a so called new town centre in Talbot Green when the matter came before RCT;s development control committee on 28th February.
"The report clearly states that the new town centre will take business away from existing retail areas such as Pontypridd, Talbot Green, Tonypandy and Porth. These are areas which are already experiencing hardship, and surely we have a duty to protect where possible existing businesses.
"The report says the estimated percentage decrease in trade will be small enough to be 'insignificant'
"To quote from the NLP report
It is considered that there will be a 5.9% impact on Pontypridd's comparison goods floorspace. This is not considered to be harmful on the centre as a whole. Impact on Talbot Green centre is estimated just below 10%. The centre is expected to remain strong and the impact is not considered to be significantly harmful.
The impact of the proposed development has been carefully considered on other centres both inside and outside of the Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough and it is not considered that the impact will be significantly harmful to any centre either within RCT or beyond.
"I am sure that traders in RCT who are fighting to survive now would disagree. Local businesses retain money in the local area, multi nationals don't do that."
Amongst the points brought up by those against the proposed development was the fact that the retail assessment relied on 2008 figures and assumptions such as the precinct development in Pontypridd going ahead. This is out of date and cannot be said to reflect the current position.
Millions of pounds have been spent on so called regeneration in towns across RCT, yet rather than put our efforts into ensuring those existing town centres have a future this proposal is to build a new town that will be the kiss of death for others.
The argument was made that the new town was already included in the Local Development Plan, however the report states that 'In conclusion and overall it is accepted that the proposed development exceeds the retail floorspace set out in the LDP allocation.'
Councillor Powell said the concerns around traffic congestion were valid, and that arguments that building a Sainsbury's store would decrease traffic to Tesco's were spurious
"traffic will still be generated just moved a few hundred yards down the road."