Over Fifty Years of Commitment
A summary of surviving records of Society activities:
Early December 1967: audience of over 100 at the Angel Hotel voted unanimously to form the society following the work of a steering committee chaired by John Wilson; Reif Godfrey elected chairman and John Wilson vice chair, Enid Caudwell and Miss Arfon-Davies as secretaries and W Prytherch treasurer. James Kegie, County Planning Officer: ‘If every citizen of Abergavenny belonged to this civic society there would be no problem of ugliness or bad planning. No-one – architect, trader or local authority – would dare to do anything that would detract from the town’s appearance and welfare.’ (!!!)
No records have yet been found from 1967 to 1987 (efforts made in 1997) apart from:
1977: Queen’s Silver Jubilee: 25 trees planted in Bailey Park
1987: Society claimed credit for Improving proposed frontage of Butchers Arms site
We therefore know nothing of any part played by the Society in responding to Mr Kegie’s Draft Town Centre Map of the mid 1960s, but it seems likely that the alternative proposals put forward by a ‘Civic Committee’ may have led to the Society’s formation. The County Council’s plan proposed massive surgery of the town, mainly to provide the centre with a ring road: Monmouth Road was to connect with Castle Street via the castle grounds and a new road between Tudor Street and Brecon Road, with public buildings west of Baker Street, would have meant the clearance of much of the older part of Grofield. Lower Cross Street was to be housing on the north side and open space on the south side. Only the widening of Castle Street and Tudor Street and the connection of Park Road with Hereford Road was to be achieved as from 1970 the policy emphasis shifted from redevelopment to conservation and, especially in Grofield, housing improvement.
The town centre Conservation Area was designated in the 1970s and by 1987 there was a much more cautious Draft Abergavenny Local Plan.
1988: first available committee minutes: John Wilson (JW) chairman, Ann Waller secretary, shortly to be succeeded by R Merton-Jones (RMJ), Miss Alwynne Fuller (AF) as vice chair, Ann Waller honorary secretary (Pam Heath membership sec/treasurer, Mr J Mills minute sec); President Mrs Margaret Herbert (until 1990).
1967 (and probably earlier) – 2011: John Wilson says that much of the work was carried out by small subgroups and no records were kept; these groups and the main committee met in committee members’ homes, where there were also annual fund-raising summer parties, quizzes, etc; any committee minutes were hand-written (much of the time by Judy Foden) and read aloud before adoption; open meetings were held at the Angel Hotel and, later, at the Priory Centre; visits to historic houses, other towns, etc usually featured in the annual programme.
Society membership in this period appears to have averaged about 50, occasionally rising to around 70, with around 20-25 attending meetings (an attendance book was signed until 2011). There was usually £2,000-3,000 in the bank (dropping to £835 when book was published in 1992). Small donations were often made to local causes.
Responses to planning applications etc were handled by RMJ, sometimes with discussion by the committee. While the minutes provide some indication of applications reported, they only occasionally record views expressed or reasoning. RMJ appears to have observed on many more than would be the case today (and probably greater interest in details) though perhaps with no greater success (he commented on applications outside the urban area, including the National Park, and there seem to have been more applications, especially in the shopping centre). A failure to receive replies or other communication from MCC was a common complaint.
At a time when development plans such as the Gwent Structure Plan and the Monmouth District Local Plan were expensive to buy and unavailable online, there seems to have been little discussion of these and few views expressed. Applications for sizeable housing estates also seem to have escaped comment. Clearly the views of RMJ, an architect, on planning applications were almost always supported by the committee, and others, such as the Giles, tried to keep pace with town centre planning, where the Development Forum was much more actively involved.
Properties that appear repeatedly include the Coliseum cinema (covered market, amusement arcade, bingo, nightclub etc – eventually became the Gateway church); former railway land at Grosvenor Road; Old Court, Tudor St; the Great George; the Old Mill, Mill St; the Old Police Station; the National Park building in Monk St; trolley nuisance at the Cybi Walk Safeway; Pen y Fal Chapel; and endless litter and eyesore problems.
1988: Society strongly opposed the short ‘western by-pass’ (to become the ‘link road’ built in mid 90s following public inquiry) favouring a longer route relieving Glangrwyney and Crickhowell; objected to increased density of Ysbytty Farm housing site (from 75 to 118); pedestrianisation of Nevill St opposed as it would cause traffic problems elsewhere, and considered impracticable to restrict delivery hours; concerns about health hazards in Mill St area; objected to raising speed limit on Monmouth Rd to 40mph (reversed c2016); strong objections to the ‘turkey factory’ location; the Society seemed to find difficulty in obtaining copies of a ‘town plan’; Mrs Marjorie Stinchcombe presented the society with an embroidered tablecloth.
1988-c2010: The well/spring in Holywell Road was periodically cared for by members like Brian and Margaret Giles (plaque), David Freer and Michael and Jocelyn Prys-Williams
1988-89: Survey of (possibly threatened by sale) medieval Market Street buildings carried out for posterity and study (presented to the Museum); £750 grant from Cadw; led by R Merton-Jones; remedial works by MCC 1990.
1989: Abandoned shopping trollies and the lack of somewhere for young people to get together were major concerns; too many homes for the elderly; much concern about the proposed Pwll Ddu opencast mining; call for car park at railway station; objected to location of homes behind Tithe Barn (Beili Priory) and shops in Seven Corners Lane; Margaret Herbert to be succeeded by Miss Alwynne Fuller (AF) as President.
1990:; Objected to 13 houses at Hereford Road, Mardy (?) and 9 at Greystones, Mardy; welcomed design of flats opposite war memorial; town trails leaflet and town street map reprinted; Mr Kevin Doran became chairman, RMJ vice, Mrs Judy Foden hon secretary; concern about condition and sale of Baptist Church in Market St; also condition of Tithe Barn; Tithe Barn to be listed, but not Baptist Church (supported conversion to offices); objected to density of housing proposed behind 34 Brecon Road (Orchard Mews).
1991: Resiting of war memorial suggested at AGM to ease traffic flow; objected to backland development on railway land, Park Crescent; mulberry tree to be planted in St Mary’s church grounds for Abergavenny 900; Baptist Chapel to be antiques showroom and museum; closure of Pen y Fal and possible threat to buildings – listing proposed.
1992: ‘Victimisation’ of produce stall near Hardwick roundabout an issue; membership subs raised to £3 single, £5 couple; opposed Safeway foodstore at Llanfoist Farm; poster competition; Pentre Road (north side) housing appeal; opposed Tesco superstore plan at Red Barn Farm; opposed demolition and care centre at Mardy Park (unnecessary expense).
Publication of Abergavenny in the 20th Century, marking 25th anniversary. This started life as Memories of Abergavenny c1988 intended for Abergavenny 900 celebrations (1990) – Miss AF/Phillip Lovell/Mrs Waller found it very time-consuming to edit, print and publish – Patrick Humphreys took over in 1991 – grants and loans (some soon repaid, but still owed £1,500 five months later) to top up Society’s £1,500 – 1,000 copies (250 retained by publisher for national distribution – WHSmith etc) – sold at £11.95 each (local shops to buy for £8.00) with production cost £6.00 – subsequent £1,000 Cadw grant enabled loans to be repaid; sales slow a year after publication and prices reduced each year; still about 600 left in June 1994; in September 2000 only 70 remained and total costs of nearly £6,000 had been recovered. Has anyone still got a stock of these?
1993: RMJ chairman again, Mr Howard Pullan vice (1 year only); constitution reviewed; divided opinion on local proposal to move cattle market to Llanfoist Farm (not Safeway site) and use site for a supermarket and car park; fears of an ugly concrete car park in Byefield Lane (a Brown and Parnaby idea featured at 1994 AGM); objected to Usk Barrage; Roger Evans MP met with committee to discuss lack of consultation/discussion on planning matters (and subsequently proved a useful ally); complaints about abandoned lorry parking at railway station forecourt and parking in Station Road (MP involved); Society plaque planned for the war memorial; suggestions made for new uses of Pen y Fal, Old Police Station and NP Office.
1994: Richard Parnaby led AGM discussion with KHS sixth-formers about the future of the town (matters raised included need for leisure centre like Pontypool or Ebbw Vale, teenagers’ coffee bar, cinema, space for study at the library); council houses in the grounds of The Hill provoked no comment until under way (‘too quickly’); reassured by MCC that repaving of High Street is up to standard; thanked by Mrs Anna Petts for successful efforts to list Workhouse; tried to restore town wall walk at United Joinery; Tesco withdrew application; declined to join SAUCE but donation made to fight Safeway; objected to large extension of The Elms, Belmont Road.
1995: Opposed A465 roundabout that would send more traffic through Llanfoist; war memorial plaque (£220) finally installed after much debate about wording; revised constitution agreed at AGM, Mr Brian Giles vice-chairman; 35 houses on Ross Road opposed (Waterside?); open meeting on ‘How Can We Save Abergavenny’ attracted 25.
1996: Concern about a missing cupola on the old Grammar School and the condition of the railway station buildings; 19 long term parking spaces to be provided at the station as well as industrial units; some improvements secured to new Safeway but approved; opposed Brown and Parnaby/SAUCE scheme for more shops on PO site, but supported the need for a plan ahead of developer proposals and agreed to work together; death of the redoubtable Miss Alwynne Fuller – led to annual award in her name to KHS special needs pupil; MCC’s
Three Towns Initiative started along with an Economic Development Forum; the EDF confirmed that Abergavenny was the county’s best performing town centre, if not its cleanest; Abergavenny Development Forum (ADF) formed (ex SAUCE?); supported a suggestion that Pen y Fal should be a Virgin hotel complex; ADF reported to be opposed to Society pressure for listing Pen y Fal buildings – but listing achieved.
1997: Three-storey flats opposed at old fire station site in Monk St (too high near church); meeting held with PO Counters re possible relocation (no current plans); empty shops causing concern; death of Patrick Humphreys; Mr Mike Foden became hon treasurer; AGM wanted post office to remain in St John’s Square; 36 houses on Ross Road approved; concern about condition of Park Avenue verge of car park; railway station refurbishment under way; Drivers Jonas reported that the town was perceived as in decline – but comparatively healthy but with cattle market uncertainties needing urgent resolution; Three Towns report completed and exhibited – seemingly welcomed its ‘ideas’; supported MCC proposal for new library and CAB at old Grammar School (later rejected by MCC); 30th Anniversary event at the Angel; Society backed the Three Towns sponsored walkway between the Castle and Linda Vista as a Millennium Project; car parking charges arrived; mixed views about CCTV.
1998: Talk of funding bid for Bailey Park improvements; subscriptions raised to £5 per member; Huw Edwards MP to support efforts to deal with long-standing problem of abandoned vehicles at the station and non-response of MCC Planning to letters; scaffolding at the Gateway Café; Nick Hamilton, new Town Manager for MCC; Society undertook to monitor Brewery car park/Cybi Brook area for litter; MCC’s draft Unitary Development Plan welcomed with some cynicism about whether the extra houses were needed and safe cycling and walking routes
1999: First newsletter circulated; Redrow plans for Pen y Fal generally acceptable (architect met the committee); concerns about take-away opening hours; Mrs Pam Heath and Henry Ambler (Tourist Association) died; Carter Commercial Developments interested in developing a supermarket when the cattle market moves to Raglan – suggested uses of the site passed to MCC; mounting grievances against MCC, especially frustration at numerous ‘partnership’ meetings and studies but little resulting action; Society (notably JW and Steve McCombie) helped with planting and maintaining tubs and baskets at the station (grant support obtained for initial costs); tree planting wanted at the Monmouth Road entry to the town.
2000: Protests against cost of new Assembly building in Cardiff and Arts Council grant cut to Gwent Theatre; Youth Café (Monk St?) behavioural problems led to closure; objected to proposed relocation of Gorsedd Stones from Monmouth Road to Swan Meadow, preferring Linda Vista; RMJ relinquished executive chair to JW and became President, chairing monthly meetings; reference to model of the town and proposals made by the Welsh School of Architecture in liaison with ADF; amalgamation with ADF rejected by ADF in favour of close cooperation; Society seemed to have mixed views on the closure/move of the cattle market – some were cautious about the unknown impact while others accepted it but wanted full use made of the site – two-storey with re-use of stone and sensitive architecture; met cost of one tree for Rotary’s Millennium woodland planting at Nevill Hall; donation to Chris Woodhouse towards a railway plaque at Hatherleigh Place; MacDonalds restaurant adjoining ‘turkey factory’ at Hardwick successfully opposed; monthly meetings moved to Priory Rooms; station café opened; wanted traffic lights at Frogmore St/A40/Pen y Pound junction.
2001: Purchased a sound system for Priory Music Room use (£350); the industrious Brian and Margaret Giles retired from committee; Judy Foden-led Linda Vista Millennium Project started, with £3,500 MCC CEDS grant; David Haswell and David Brancher presented the ADF Brewery Yard scheme to the AGM, which was welcomed; development at the former National Park building approved; Town Manager now Dale Roberts; supported a food-only store at the cattle market site rather than larger supermarket; concern for condition of Seven Corners Lane empty shops etc; Gorsedd Stones moved to Swan Meadow; ‘Food Fest’ successful; McDonalds inquiry – appeal rejected; MCC Unitary Development Plan available (£50 – no mention of £10 CD) – society objected to Larchfield development, preferring open space or primary school.
2002: Brochure/leaflet produced, with advertising – leaflet ‘drops’; Mrs Stinchcombe chair of committee; Brewery Yard seemed to be favoured for food store, but declined to join CoT, FoE and ADF in CASE (Campaign for A’s Shopping Environment) backing Brewery Yard scheme (RMJ advice); Coopers factory to close; Linda Vista path with sponsored paving stones substantially completed by MCC; objected to ‘large retail development’ on Link Road.
2003: RMJ wished others to respond to planning applications – no one volunteered; £100 grant made towards cost of information boards at the castle; work of UVPA contesting gravel extraction supported; Linda Vista shrub planting; Dr Shirley Shirley took over from Judy Foden as minutes secretary – where might they be? AGM minutes very thin.
2004: Linda Vista project finally completed and opened; Pen y Fal cemetery taken over by MCC and Society raised funds for memorial plinth; concern about Redrow demolition of pedestrian bridge by Mill House; Michael Prys-Williams obtaining quotations for cleaning war memorial (leaning slightly but ’unlikely to be more settlement’); retail development on Link Road refused; concerns about planned business and industrial park at Llanfoist Farm; opposed Asda scheme for the cattle market, non-food retailing on part of the Coopers site at Llanfoist, and six apartments at Saxonbury; commented on 46 dwellings at Larchfield, 11 apartments on disused Brecon Road site (Henstaff) and 51 apartments on Lanes Garage site, Lion Street.
2005: Mr Vic Barrett succeeded Mrs Stinchcombe in the chair; war memorial clean-up completed.
2007: Cattle market plans discussed at AGM.
The preparation and adoption of the Local Development Plan 2011-2021 took from 2008 until early 2014 with several stages of consultation. Society representations are not in our extant records but MCC records indicate opposition to growth of the urban area, especially the ‘candidate sites’ including Deri Farm, Mardy, which was allocated in the final plan. Candidate sites process criticised – proposals should come from the community not landowners. The Society even objected to the level of development in Severnside as pressures to develop there should be resisted.
2008: Agreed to try new St Michael’s hall for monthly meetings: Nigel Burton (ex national Civic Society body) addressed the AGM.
2009: Simon Robertshaw (MCC heritage officer) addressed the AGM
2010: The vision of Tony and Sue Konieczny and Stefan Horowskij for the future of the society presented to the AGM and discussed – needed to be more proactive and less reactive, appealing to younger people; meeting agreed to regenerate society under new management and steering committee to be chaired by John Wilson; concerns about Arts Council for Wales funding cuts; extraordinary meeting in October addressed by Matthew Griffiths of the Civic Trust for Wales; email account established; cattle market site plans monitored by Alan Michie who became chair of the re-launched Society; TK and Ruth Coulthard vice-chairs, Sue Konieczny and Kath Bransom in secretarial positions, Stefan H and David Sheers to deal with planning matters; only Mike Foden (and briefly Shirley Shirley) continued from the ‘old’ committee, though others helped the transition.
The ’new’ Society has continued to hold open meetings with guest speakers (once a year with entertainment) but holds fewer social events (an annual lunch is held thanks to Kath Bransom) or visits to other places. Some grants are made to local causes consistent with the Society’s objectives, but there is more emphasis on spending on our own projects, some as modest as annual contributions to St Mary’s Priory Flower Festival, and active involvement in partnership projects. Activity peaked in 2013 and 2014 when town regeneration project opportunities were sought, though with little success, but the town has continued to perform better than many others; Committee meetings are now held in council chamber at Town Hall.
Despite improved, if infrequent, contact at a personal level, the Society has continued to experience ‘no replies’ from MCC and very limited success when commenting on planning applications, despite having two or three retired planners on the committee. The Council’s severe resource constraints cannot always be responsible – community views are easily set aside unless they coincide with those with planning officers, often pre-determined.
2011: Stefan Horowskij, then TK, led opposition to Morrisons first application, wanting building nearer to Lion Street, but views of Society and other local groups brushed aside by MCC; concerns about MCC disposal of community assets such a Park St School and the Melville Theatre, and successfully opposed closure of tourist information centre (relocated); welcomed sympathetic social housing development on Grosvenor Road; ongoing concerns about disposal of The Hill; Smart Town ‘Good, Bad and the Ugly’ photo competition (200 entries) to raise public interest and profile of the Society – exhibited at Nevill Hall and resulted in several clean-ups; attended Environment Fair in Market Hall; David Sheers enabled Abergavenny to be chosen as one of 3 Welsh towns to be part of a proposed Civic Trust for Wales project to develop a methodology of urban characterisation for towns in Wales; initial proposal from David Haswell that the town should have a buildings colour palette; Dick Cole joined the committee; unhappy with the condition of the area opposite the Hen and Chicks; commented on Deposit Version of Local Development Plan; joint open meeting with Bryn y Cwm Community Forum on town needs led to Society ‘Wish List’; AM led encounters with MCC re their plans for the Cattle Market; presentations to Town Council and MCC Area Committee.
2012: Continued debate with MCC re threats to town vitality and cattle market issues (commissioning a report on the feasibility of retaining the market – dismissed by MCC as ‘fatally flawed’ – lack of engagement stressed at public meeting later in the year); ‘Abergavenny is Not an Ashtray’ campaign; first meeting about a River Gavenny project with the Wye and Usk Foundation – Mill St weir plans submitted for planning approval; urban characterisation project initiated with pilot study of Chapel Road in March followed by a public meeting before full ‘Exploring Abergavenny’ survey started; McCarthy and Stone development next to Swan Meadow supported in principle but detailed criticisms (mostly dismissed); rare liaison with other local civic societies; concern about long-standing scaffolding supporting 43 Cross Street; Diamond Jubilee metal silhouettes added to four town information boards; Holywell again in need of attention (nearly £2k worth); Stefan H report supporting listing of old cattle market buildings submitted (unsuccessful); housing at Coopers site supported as preferable to retail; powerpoint projector and improved sound system purchases; membership increased from 65 to 92 since re-launch (plus 9 affiliated businesses); Philip Bowyer succeeded AM as chair.
2013: Major involvement throughout the year with others on MCC’s Bryn y Cwm Whole Place Plan (‘Better ByC’) especially town centre regeneration, including the unsuccessful MCC Vibrant and Viable Places £4m bid to Welsh Government and the subsequent Business Improvement District (BID) first stage submission; scoping document drafted for Gavenny green corridor project; move of open meetings to the Angel, but cost and disabled access issues arose; decided not to pursue Holywell work because of uncertain ownership; Civic Trust role in ‘Exploring Abergavenny’ ended when about one-third of survey completed – began planning of ‘Understanding Abergavenny’ project; TK and DC made presentation at CTfW characterisation conference at Shrewsbury; ‘Food Town’ discussion paper by PB, leading to future initiatives by others; LDP Public Examination (no Society appearance); objected to Charles Church housing proposal at Red Barn field, already rejected by MCC in LDP; colour palette for painting town centre buildings considered with Business Club and Dulux – David Haswell advice, but this project, which might have been funded by one of the regeneration initiatives, did not proceed; rebuilding of 43 Cross St permitted; supported industrial units at Nantgavenny Lane; concern that MCC slowest in Wales to decide planning applications (met in 2014 to discuss ‘customer charter’); unsuccessfully objected to layout of hotel and refreshment buildings at Llanfoist; responded to Heritage Bill consultation; bank accounts of over £5,000; Tony Konieczny succeeded PB as chair, Ian Vicary as new treasurer, split other functions between Mike Foden, Anna Petts, Kath Bransom, Ruth Coulthard and other committee members (Sue K henceforth back-up to everyone!); Transition Town initiative launched.
2014: Initial BID submission approved – £27k available to prepare final submission – worked closely with the team and consultants preparing application for Welsh Government funding; MCC adopted its Local Development Plan allocating Deri Farm, Mardy, and (last minute) Coed Glas sites for housing; with Town Council and others commissioned and received Action for Market Towns/Town Alive baseline survey of town centre business offer; involvement in town tourism plan; Town Team formed, soon to be chaired by Alan Michie, to monitor and help coordinate various initiatives, delivering the Whole Place Plan; ambitious three-year £70k ‘Understanding Abergavenny’ project planned, oral history etc, with part-time project officer; contributed to MCC debates about car parking charges and café seating, A boards, etc in the highway; responded to Planning Bill consultation; supported continued educational role for The Hill; concerns about use of library building when replaced on cattle market site (later to be in the Town Hall); received draft copy of MCC’s Conservation Area Appraisal; Society reluctantly felt that past development plan and outline decisions (possibly not
contested by the ‘old’ Society) made it impracticable to object in principle to McDonalds at Llanfoist, but criticised design; concern at planners’ general reluctance to press for better designs; adopted use of a notice board at the junction of High St and Nevill St; plaque in Bailey Park marking tree planting in 1977 and 2012; welcomed MCC bee-friendly planting; ambitions for the Gavenny project further considered, now led by Kim Waters, concentrating on overcoming fish pass problems and funding possibilities; concern about settlement of learning war memorial – Society decided not to become involved; 100 Club raffle started by Ian Vicary, treasurer, proving a much better fund-raiser than bric-a-brac stalls etc; moved open meetings to Methodist church hall, purchasing projector stand and screen; Heritage Lottery Fund bid for ‘Understanding Abergavenny’ unsuccessful – decided to complete survey with only volunteers.
2015: Objected to designs of McDonalds and Costa at Westgate; supported residential conversion of Pen y Fal chapel; MCC admitted that community views are unlikely to carry much weight if an application has been amended to meet their requirements before applying (highlighting case for pre-app community consultation); several comments on Persimmon housing at Llanfoist; Bethany Chapel restoration praised; seeking funds to help restoration of 43 Cross Street; Town Team now Team Abergavenny (and launched in February 2016); objected to revised Costa plans; Fairfield Park Avenue stone-clad planters provided by local businessman and managed by Anna Petts; aim to provide nearby seating area in place of redundant trolley park; disappointment that the town centre BID proposal, with which the Society (especially TK) had been closely involved, was rejected in June by a vote of local businesses; Mark Hand succeeded George Ashworth as MCC Head of Planning; new website set up by Ruth Coulthard; objected to an undetermined 2010 application for housing behind Gunter Mansion (approved); welcomed Welsh Georgian Trust purchase of Gunter Mansion; welcomed MCC’s Conservation Area Appraisal but suggested further extensions of the designation (Hereford Road area and Lansdown Road); McDonalds approved with minor changes of materials as Society wanted; objections to houses proposed in grounds of Ty’r Morwydd; input via Team Abergavenny to MCC proposals for High St/Nevill St/St Johns Square repaving etc; membership topped 100 plus 18 affiliates; revised constitution agreed at AGM; Ruth Coulthard succeeded TK as chair.
2016: Concerns about broadband mast on Little Skirrid and reduced amount of woodland planting on Westgate site; questioned the value of commenting on planning applications with Mark Hand, little reassurance but decided to continue in the interests of the community; Gavenny project likely to merge with a NRW Natural Resource Management Plan (also part of an unsuccessful Big Lottery Fund application); commented on plans for housing in grounds of The Hill and the demolition, loss of trees and unimaginative housing types planned by Melin HA at Coed Glas (had no effect); recognised the need to be more proactive and co-ordinate with Town Team and others on redevelopment opportunities; complained to MCC about condition of the Henstaff site on Brecon Road; DC and TK ran a characterisation seminar at a Civic Trust Cymru event in Cardiff (repeated later in the year at Conwy); completed surveys and draft reports on 36 Exploring Abergavenny character areas; met MCC regarding their limited success in attracting employment to Abergavenny; conservation area extended as in Appraisal (excepting cattle market); design objections to development on Brecon Road (Heronhurst) but subsequently much improved; commented on Deri Farm details; with assets of £11k (£2k committed) it was felt that publication of the Exploring Abergavenny work could mark the 50th anniversary in 2017; TK became a trustee of Civic Trust Cymru which shortly had to be dissolved (no fault of TK); concerns about details of retail proposal at ATS, Monmouth Road (design subsequently much improved but withdrawn); Mick Petts’ scheme for Fairfield welcomed, if over-ambitious (more simple design later agreed); Welsh Government pre-application community consultation procedures welcomed with reservations; objected to Grove Farm unallocated housing application; Judith Vicary joined committee as communications secretary; objected to two houses in grounds of 14 Lansdown Road (approved); unsuccessfully objected strongly (press coverage) to new design for Morrisons store, worse than 2011 plans; PB paper on awards and other ways of strengthening relationship with local businesses – awards agreed; DC involved in new Usk bridge planning; Matthew Griffiths (ex-Civic Trust for Wales) contracted to prepare Exploring Abergavenny material for exhibition and printing.
2017: Grove Farm application approved – MCC failing to deliver five year’s supply required by Welsh Government; objected to design of Newbridge House (Tudor St) conversion to residential – designs later improved; first draft of ‘Take a Look at Abergavenny’; concern about proliferation of unauthorised banner advertising; Society information supplied to Kim Waters for digital notice board near Town Hall; sponsored ‘Heritage in Crisis’ workshop at Methodist church hall to consider the scope for a new Welsh heritage organisation (despite support this later failed for lack of volunteers to lead the venture); continued campaign against the design of Morrisons store, with press coverage – no response to letters to MCC Leader or Morrisons; celebrated 50th anniversary, presenting Alun Griffiths with first Certificate of Commendation – certificates also presented to Anthony Davies (43 Cross St restoration), Marion Pearce (Park St Community Centre), Amanda Peters (Gunter), David Price (phone box decorator) and Bettina Reeves (artist); complaint to MCC about excessive number and choice of bollards in St John’s St; DC drafted simple consultation plan for Fairfield site; DC involved via Town Team in planning MCC Frogmore Street/Lion Street public realm works; objected to bus station location of hydrogen car fuel station (rejected); concern at frequent reductions in percentages of affordable housing at S106 stage; Stan Pochron succeeded RC as chair; assets peaked at about £13k; castle events pavilion supported in principle; critical of Henstaff pre-app plans – overdevelopment, low parking provision; ‘Exploring Abergavenny’ exhibited at Gunter Mansion – viewed by about 150; mixed responses to pre-app McCarthy and Stone Tudor Street consultation; concern at lack of MCC advance planning for such areas; Team Abergavenny’s Community Plan agreed by MCC Area Committee (several Society members involved in drafting subgroups).
2018: Discussion of whether the Society needed a design guide to protect and enhance the character of the town, led to discussion with Patrick Hannay and subsequent offer of DC to draft a design policy; responded to LDP policy review, which led to MCC decision to start revision of the plan, extending it to 2033; regret that pre-app community consultations are not resulting in any changes before submission (and few after) – eg Henstaff (strong objection to planning application – approved) and McCarthy and Stone (cosmetic changes post application); 100 copies of ‘EA’ exhibition material sold as an educational publication at cost price (£20); complied with new data protection requirements; supported successful revitalisation of Abergavenny in Bloom and new Arts Festival; construction of Morrisons store provoked considerable complaints about the design – Society letter in Chronicle questioned planning procedures whereby MCC decides applications in which it has an interest; discussed adequacy of parking standards; commented on draft Planning Policy Wales; supported planning application for ‘active travel’ Usk bridge; second phase of MCC public realm works completed (upper Frogmore St and part Lion St); discussion of Town Hall community hub plans; pressed for action to relieve A40 traffic congestion/pollution; concerns expressed to MCC about over-charging/regulation of café chairs, etc in the public realm; Fairfield trolley park plans agreed by interested parties and materials secured from MCC for implementation by local contractor at modest cost to the Society; existing Fairfield planters survive drought thanks to helpers but grass verge needs attention; signs of life in Gavenny project via MCC Green Infrastructure project; adopted a Design Statement of the Society’s advice to developers (on
web site); published DC’s ‘Take a Look at Abergavenny and Mardy’ (£5) describing 200 years of town growth and changing architecture (in association with History Society); submitted ‘candidate sites’ for protection from development in the LDP revision (National Park ‘buffer’, Gavenny valley and potential by-pass); hoped approval of Leven House conversion to flats would soon lead to removal of hoarding and scaffolding; objected to an unallocated housing proposal at Llantilio Pertholey; concern about MCC charges for tables and chairs in public realm; Society’s Design Statement adopted; Peter Johns succeeded Anna Petts as Minutes Secretary membership up to 117, accounts stand at about £10k;; objected to unallocated Llantilio Pertholey ‘eco-village; supported Castle events pavilion planning application, subsequently refused; supported Town Council actions re air quality on A40.
2019: objected to access arrangements of controversial 18 apartment block at Llanfoist, but content with design, in contrast to most local opinion; contributed to phase 3 public real scheme design (Frogmore St west end), opposed traders’ demand for phase 2 opening to all traffic after 4pm; concern that MCC seemed likely to adopt a high employment growth strategy combined with many more houses – jobs unlikely, housing very likely, leading to more commuting; extensive LDP housing ‘candidate sites’ revealed, most likely to be unacceptable to the Society; intervened on behalf of market traders in dispute with MCC re Market Hall works; concern about unresolved bus stop location on A40 (essential for public realm scheme); need for community consultation on KHS redevelopment proposals; committee meetings to be held at the Melville Centre at least until Town Hall works completed; commented on detailed plans for 106 homes at Grove Farm. Llanfoist; former chair Tony Konieczny Mayor of Abergavenny; Society supported Abergavenny in Bloom financially and with considerable planting and tidying at Bailey Park in and around the Sunken Garden; Linda Vista shrub planting also assisted; Fairfield trolley park replaced with granite paving, raised beds and seating, with help from MCC and Alun Griffiths; sales of ‘Take a Look..’ about 400; supported MCC appeal against refusal by NRW of a Flood Risk Activity Permit for the new Llanfoist bridge; with regret because of uncertainties felt unable to house funds raised by a member for funding War Memorial correction; responded to MCC LDP countywide consultation on Growth and Spatial Options 2018-33 by preferring only modest employment and housing growth and locating most development in the better situated south of the county, while noting the need for more local jobs and less commuting by car; supported National Park LDP Preferred Strategy but objected strongly to a candidate housing site at Llwyndu;
We aim to extend these notes annually. If anyone can add to their content or wishes to make a correction please contact Dick Cole at firstname.lastname@example.org or any other committee member.