There’s growing concern being vented over the look of the new developments taking shape on the former Smithfield market site.
Residents were celebrating last year after it was announced that B&M and Aldi had the green light to build, bringing jobs and more shopping options to the town.
But as the new developments take shape, there is a worry that they are actually becoming an eye sore and not providing the warm Welshpool welcome that we all anticipated.
A stream started on the Welshpool Melting Pot Facebook Group has shared criticism of the look of the site with one resident asking: “Is anyone else a little bit shocked and concerned at the size of the new B&M store?”
Replies included: “It looks horrendous at the moment” and “it’s a bloody eye sore”.
It has also drawn professional criticism with local architect and businessman, Doug Hughes, of Mid Wales building design and planning consultants Hughes Architects, saying a lot of previously good planning and development work in the area was being hampered by developments “inconsistent” with local planning design policy.
“The area around the canal at Welshpool is a prime example,” he said. “It’s an area for local people and visitors to enjoy – a gateway into the town. There are a lot of older, established properties in the area and high quality public realm work attracts people into the town.
“But the retail development work being undertaken close to it has resulted in large retail units not aesthetically consistent or in keeping with the immediate local environment being developed.
“There should be more consistency in the approach to planning such developments in the area to protect what we have and to ensure sustainable and appropriate commercial and residential developments in such areas.”
He suggested setting up local design panels to help enhance such developments with independent, professional advice during the planning process.
He added: “Development is important for the economic and social growth of our communities. But these need to be carefully balanced with what we already have in terms of our built environments and in some cases there doesn’t seem to have been a great deal of thought put into how the two merge together.”
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PICTURE: Courtesy of Owain Betts.