In which The Author contributes to the
town planning debate
This one was written after a daft conversation in the pub one night. It appeared in the Cynon Valley Leader on 16 December 1993.
Recently the Leader has published a number of letters and stories regarding the state of Aberdare town centre. Perhaps the time has come for a complete rethink in planning policy to eradicate the social problems that the Leader so often highlights, and create a more pleasant environment for us all.
And the measure that I propose is simple and effective – flood Aberdare town centre! A lake some 20 ft deep could be created by building a dam along the Aberdare bypass road, from the Ynys roundabout to Tinney’s junction, and allowing the river Dare to flood the Valley’s floor before entering the Cynon further downstream than at present.
Buildings already vacant could be demolished, as would Tesco once it relocates to its new site. The remaining buildings would have to be vacated, but the urban redevelopments of the 1950s and 1960s proved this can done with a minimum of fuss. This would involve the rehousing of a small number of residents, but this would not pose any great problems.
Most businesses in the area have branches in neighbouring towns and their patrons would not be greatly inconvenienced by the extra travelling involved. Indeed, this could form more of a general exodus of goods and services away from the town centres – a trend actively encouraged by successive governments. I am sure that this proposal would easily gain Welsh Office approval, and when Cynon Valley is merged with the adjacent boroughs, the transfer of business will seem to be a very sensible idea.
In order to speed the journey from north to south, the railway line would – of course – be closed following privatisation, and converted into a new Expressway. This would link the A470 at Abercynon to the A465 at Hirwaun, taking long-distance traffic away from the bypass, thus relieving congestion, again in line with government policy.
The lake itself would become an important tourist attraction, offering excellent potential for angling, boating and other water sports. Equipment hire for these activities could be available at the sports centre, generating money and jobs. In the summer the water level would fall and people would come from miles to see the spectacle of a drowned town, visible for a few weeks every year, its houses, shops and pubs perfectly preserved beneath the surface!
We should also consider the effect on the crime rate in the town. With no shops, there could be no shoplifting. The lack of pubs would prevent drunkenness and violence, and joyriders would have nowhere to drive at high speeds at all hours of the night. The police station could therefore be closed without difficulty.
I realise this suggestion may seem radical and far-fetched, but it’s worthy of consideration. I’m sure borough councillors would much rather look out of their offices at an attractive waterfront landscape than a grey telephone exchange.