Jim and Elaine Bradley outside their new coffee shop
A historic building in Aberdare has undergone an incredible £800,000 refurbishment project which has created a new business, job opportunities and living accommodation in the town centre.
The ambitious scheme for Aberdare’s Grade II Listed former Town Hall, which had been derelict for many years, was brought forward by WH Developments and received a major investment thanks to Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI).
The THI was able to grant fund over 60% of the project costs which has been complemented by the Council with a loan contribution of £80,000 via its 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 £500,000, contributing to 29 renovated properties, 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.
The refurbishment project has allowed the upper floors to be transformed into high quality living accommodation and ground floor area of this unique building is occupied by a new business for the town centre which has also resulted in new job opportunities being created.
Bradley’s Coffee shop recently opened its doors to offer a variety of specialist coffee and refreshments to their customers. Co-owner, Jim Bradley stated “My wife and I are pleased to be associated with this project and have been particularly impressed by working with such an enthusiastic and competent contractor and developer.
Co-owner of the Town Hall Ceri Hillman added, “We are extremely delighted with the results of our sympathetic restoration of the Grade II former Town Hall following a long period of deterioration.
“This landmark building has now been impressively restored to its former Georgian glory by Woodland Homes contractors, and along with the impact on the streetscape new jobs have been created following the launch of Bradley’s Coffee shop on the ground floor.”
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 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 renovation project has utilised highly skilled craftsmen from the contractors, Woodland Homes, to ensure that each item of work is undertaken in a way that respects the buildings needs.
The project work included the application of lime render and lime pointing, undertaking detailed carpentry work, exposing and cleaning the internal stone archways, re-roofing in Welsh Slate, installation of a copper cupola and the reinstatement of the chimney stack. All this work has been impressively undertaken to emphasize the architectural and historical interest of the former Town Hall.
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Development & Community Safety Cllr Paul Cannon explained, “The scheme has enhanced a landmark building in the centre of Aberdare and will have a positive impact on the recently refurbished public space around Library Square which ultimately benefits the town as a whole.”
The £7.7m Aberdare Town Centre Regeneration project has been 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.