A historic building in Aberdare is undergoing an incredible £800,000 refurbishment project to create new businesses, jobs and living accommodation in the town centre.
Aberdare’s former Town Hall is a Grade II Listed Building which will benefit from the major investment thanks to Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) Grant Scheme.
The scheme is part of the £7.7m Aberdare Town Centre Regeneration project delivered by the Welsh Government through the European Regional Development Fund, Heads of the Valleys Programme and the Targeted Match Fund. The remainder of the funding package was provided by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Cadw and the private sector.
The landmark building on High Street, which has been vacant for many years and has been slowly deteriorating, will have a new lease of life thanks to the programme which offers financial support to businesses and property owners to make external and internal building improvements that enhance the quality of the premises and brings disused space back into use.
The THI was able to grant £478,000 to the project which will cost approximately £817,000 in total to complete. In addition, the Council has contributed a loan of £80,000 via its new innovative ‘Houses into Homes’ Empty Property Renovation Loan Scheme which has been devised by the Welsh Government to tackle long term empty houses and prominent buildings.
The Loan Scheme was launched in 2012 and has so far distributed nearly £250,000 from a fund of over £1.5 million which will be continuously recycled to other long term empty property owners when the loans are repaid.
A spokesperson for Aberdare Town Hall said, “The funding and finance opportunity provided by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council through the Townscape Heritage Initiative and the Environmental Health Department has meant that our building can be refurbished to the highest standard which will reflect its historic value to the town centre.
“The former Town Hall will be restored to its former glory, starting a successful new chapter in its long history after years of deterioration and without the funding this would have been very difficult to achieve. We would recommend to other owners of eligilble buildings, to take up the offer of the THI grant to help put Aberdare back on the map.”
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Development & Community Safety Cllr Paul Cannon explained, “The scheme will enhance a landmark building in the centre of Aberdare and have a positive impact on the recently refurbished public space around Library Square which ultimately benefits the town as a whole.
“Creating a visually attractive town centre is proposed to increase confidence in Aberdare and encourage private sector investment. This in turn should generate local employment opportunities, increase the amount of visitors, create stronger and more diverse businesses, and foster a vibrant and sustainable economic centre.”
The former Town Hall has played an important part in Aberdare’s history from its construction in 1831 as the original Market Hall through its last official use as a Council office. The building was privately purchased several years ago but laid dormant until December 2012 when WH Developments purchased the building at auction. The owners developed a project with the Council that not only respects the building’s history but also safeguards its future.
The proposals are to undertake an appropriate refurbishment of the building, acknowledging and respecting its significant history including the reinstatement of a chimney, timber windows and other details lost over the years. The building will provide living accommodation through the creation of six flats on the upper floors and provide a mixed use of professional and commercial activity on the ground floor, where it is hoped that new job opportunities will be created.