Gwynedd Council backs ambitious redevelopment scheme for Bangor city centre
A major redevelopment of Bangor city centre could be on the cards, after Gwynedd Council took a significant step forward with plans for a £20 million project aimed at breathing new life into the area.
At a recent meeting, Cabinet members backed plans to develop a new Health and Wellbeing Centre at the Menai Centre in the city, by working in close partnership with the Welsh Government, the Local Health Board, the University and others.
The council is working to secure an 18 month ‘Option Agreement’ on the building, which will buy time for the partners to develop full plans and a business case on the ambitious and exciting project, before committing to a long-term lease of the building. Following this period – should the partners decide to go ahead – it is intended to take out a long term lease on the 57,000 square foot unit, which includes the former Debenhams store.
Should the Bangor Health and Wellbeing Centre Plan be approved, and a complete financial package confirmed, the vision is to repurpose and reimagining the existing and underused space to provide a seamless health and wellbeing service for local people. The innovative scheme will bring together preventative, primary and community health care services at the heart of the city.
This latest step in the long-term plan to redevelop Bangor city centre follows close cooperation between the Welsh Government, the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, Bangor University and Gwynedd Council. Other pieces in the Bangor regeneration jig-saw include:
- Bangor University’s plans for the new North Wales Medical School, plans to redevelop the Deiniol Road Science campus and plans to bring more activity from the Normal site closer to the city centre,
- social housing and accommodation investment,
- investment in local schools,
- discussions between the Council and Grŵp Llandrillo Menai continue regarding the opportunities to establish some of their activity in the city centre.
Cllr Dyfrig Siencyn, Gwynedd Council leader, said: “We are delighted to be able to work with our partners on these very exciting plans. Our aim is for the proposed Health and Wellbeing Centre to be a catalyst for the wider regeneration of Bangor city centre, brining jobs to the heart of the city and boosting footfall on the high street.
“Sadly, Bangor – like many other smaller cities in the UK – has suffered from the changes in people’s shopping and leisure habits, making it more difficult to bounce back from the effects of Covid. We are confident that our plans will help breathe new life into the city centre and take advantage of the good transport links.
“Local people have told us that they are concerned about Bangor High Street and the number of empty shops and lack of services. As a Council, we are determined ensure that the historic city continues to be a vibrant place for current and future generations to live, study, work and visit.”
Welsh Government Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething said: “The Welsh Government is working to create a fairer, greener and more prosperous Wales. A more secure retail sector with strong ties to our town and city centres is a vital part of that vision. So it was great to visit Bangor to meet Cyngor Gwynedd and others to hear about their partnership approach to bringing a new vibrancy to the city centre.
“I’m pleased to see the council is working closely with partners to ensure the provision of a new range of public services in the city centre, as part of efforts to generate increased footfall and consumer spend in the city’s retail sector. It is particularly pleasing to see Cyngor Gwynedd taking important steps to secure new uses for underutilised city centre sites. I look forward to seeing how their plans develop over the coming months.”
Professor Edmund Burke, Vice-chancellor of Bangor University said: "Bangor University welcomes this initiative. Our campus is constantly evolving, and we are committed to providing the best possible environment for our students, staff, and local community.
“Exciting developments such as the establishment of North Wales Medical School, the development of the science campus on Deiniol Road and the improvement of our estate will go a long way towards the regeneration of the city centre and are an excellent fit for the development of the new Health and Wellbeing Centre."
Dyfed Edwards, Chair of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, said: “We are pleased to be working in close partnership with Welsh Government, Cyngor Gwynedd and Bangor University on this exciting new development in the middle of Bangor.
“Although we are in the early planning stages, we hope this development will bring a range of health services into the city. This would include GPs, district nursing, health visiting, midwifery, children’s, mental health and therapy services as well as the voluntary sector.”
Rob Lloyd of Bearmont, owners of the Menai Centre Building, said: “We are committed to bringing positive changes to the city and have secured several exciting new retail tenants since purchasing the Menai Centre.
“The Medical Centre has the potential to be ground-breaking for Bangor and the surrounding areas. In bringing jobs into the city centre, the Medical Centre will not only bolster the local economy but also alleviate pressure on existing hospitals, contributing to enhanced healthcare services for residents. The Local Authority and our development team share a common vision for revitalising the local area and we look forward to working closely to ensure the wants and needs of the local community are met.”
John Wynn Jones, Chair of the Bangor Strategic Partnership, said: “I’m delighted with this latest development with the medical hub. I look forward to it providing the catalyst to rejuvenating the city centre, making it a desirable destination once more.”