Ceredigion County Council don't believe you should have a home, with its distinct features, location, views, memories. You just have a house, and if it gets in the way of their plans then they will happily force you out.
It's as if the council wants big business to move in, and force out the independent shops that give a place its individuality. Well, they've succeeded.
They used public money to go to court and have persuaded the Welsh Government to allow their compulsory purchase to force a pensioner from their home so it can be knocked down in favour of developers and supermarkets. The shrewdly-chosen Welsh Government inspector, Siân Worden (who has ignored objections to developments in the past), concluded: "To my mind, the interference with Mrs Jones’ human rights is justified. [...] I recommend that the Cyngor Sir Ceredigion County Council (Land at Mill Street Car Park, Glyndwr Road and Riverside Terrace, Aberystwyth) Compulsory Purchase Order 2013 be confirmed."
Screw human rights. Let's have M&S and Tesco, to join the other raft of supermarkets already landgrabbing the county. Aberystwyth continues its transformation into an identikit chainstore supermarket town.
In case you're new to the topic, here's a list of all our posts about it, and a summary from the inspector's report.
Site address: Land at Mill Street Car Park, Glyndwr Road and Riverside Terrace,
The Compulsory Purchase Order was made under section 226(1)(a) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and the Acquisition of Land Act 1981 by Ceredigion County Council on 9 August 2013.
- The purpose of the Order is to facilitate a comprehensive redevelopment of this part of the town centre and adjacent area to include demolition of existing non-listed buildings and structures and the redevelopment of the area between Glyndwr Road and Mill Street for retail units, car parking and residential apartments.
- The main grounds of objection are that: there is not a compelling case in the public interest; the scheme would not promote or improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of the area; there would be interference with the human rights of the statutory objector which would not be justified in the public interest; and the intended use of the land would not be in accordance with the development plan.
We've been told that some of the objections to the development were not seen and considered by the inspector, which seems suspicious. Did the County Council withhold evidence?
The Council are obviously patting themselves on the back for their deals with developers and big supermarkets. It makes it even tougher on the independents that face high rates, loss-leader competition, trouble from the council about displays and so on (a single example here). If you look at the council rates alone, they basically mean that most premises have to cram maximum profit per square foot just to get by. Supermarkets do this - it is part of the way they work, profit first, densely packed products, treat the customer as something to be manipulated to extract maximum profit. But what if you don't want to adopt those tricks, but want to treat people well? What if you want to start a business which keeps things as cheap as possible, is space-intensive, and sees the community as something to support, rather than a walking wallet? It doesn't matter, the council will charge you the same rates as Tesco. It's no wonder it is so hard to compete. As an example, look at the old library in Aberystwyth, for sale at £250,000. It would make a fantastic community business space. I know of one co-operative that looked into this possibility. Then they spotted the rateable value: £40,500. That means that even after you buy the building, and pay all your expenses, you still have to find over £40,000 a year to hand over to the council before you make a living. If you aren't bleeding people dry you just can't do it. The idea was dropped and the building remains empty. But never mind, eh? Aberystwyth is getting two more supermarkets instead! Finally, instead of that loaf of bread I used to buy at the independent bakers, I can now buy over-packaged, mass-produced crap. Thank you, Ceredigion County Council!