Local views sought on future of community hub

By Alexandra Bánfi   |   Reporter   |
Friday 29th July 2022 9:46 am
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ABERYSTWYTH Town Council are seeking the community’s ideas and views on the future of a unused former catholic church, with the hope of turning it into a hub.

In November 2020, the town council purchased Neuadd Gwenfrewi, formerly known as St Winefride’s Church, hoping to turn it into a community hub and council offices.

Now, the council have turned to the community to find out how they see the future of the building.

The church, dating back to around 1874, has stood empty since being controversially closed in 2012.

Aberystwyth Town Council have launched a questionnaire online to give the community the chance to express their ideas and opinions.

Mayor Councillor Talat Chaudhri said: “The reason that the Town Council are so excited about Neuadd Gwenfrewi is because it will allow us to create accessible spaces that many community groups can use and share, in place of our existing rented office that is used mostly for meetings.

“As well as saving money for the public by owning rather than renting in future, we will have at least one large community hall and a number of other rooms for community groups to use.

“However, it’s crucially important that residents, existing groups and people with ideas for new ones come to us with their input.

“We’re saving the building as part of Aberystwyth’s history and cultural heritage and opening it for everybody to see, but we also want to enable residents to develop their ideas for it. It’s right next to our beautiful new park, Maes Gwenfrewi, and we hope that the two can be used together for all sorts of events.

“Please come to us with your ideas – especially if you are part of a community group or thinking of setting one up.”

The council were outside their premises on Baker Street on 26 July, from 5pm to 8pm, and 27 July, 10am to 3pm, to promote the questionnaire and engage with members of the public.

After receiving 30 questionnaires and handing out flyers to passers by, the council will now wait until September to see how many questionnaires are completed and decide whether any other such public engagement should take place.

On a recent site visit, clerk to the council Gweneira Raw Rees told the Cambrian News the cost of the restoration and transformation of the church is estimated at around £1million, which will hopefully “be funded by various grants”.

While their ideas are “not set in stone”, they hope to turn the presbytary into their offices, preserve the church as a community space for music or official events, rebuild the garage and former Scout hut as a passive house and resource for the local community and groups.

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