Frustration over Strand ownership dispute

First published in News

Campaigners trying to improve the dilapidated Strand area in Cardigan have voiced their frustration at an ownership dispute between the county council and the Welsh Assembly Government.

The problems date back over 20 years when the Strand highway was 'detrunked' with the building of the new Cardigan bypass.

The Strand road is now the responsibility of the county council - but Ceredigion says the Strand riverside area still belongs to the government.

Welsh government officials say that the council is trying to "cherry pick" the site, leaving the Strand in limbo.

The site - which would have been renovated under the failed Big Art bid a few years back - is now an eyesore and boarded off for safety reasons.

The local Aberteifi 2010 history group, with the backing of Cardigan Castle, launched a petition last year calling for improvements to the site which is immediately opposite the £11m castle restoration project.

But the ownership dispute has to be settled before any grant bids are made.

Local ward councillor Catrin Miles said: "Since my early days as Teifi ward councillor, the "Strand area" has proven to be an increasingly complex and frustrating issue. First with the "Big Art" project that bit the dust and now, with impending completion of the Cardigan Castle project, we have an eyesore between Castle and river that desperately needs renovating. More recently, the severe flooding in Teifi ward has highlighted the need to look at this area from a flood-prevention perspective. Natural Resources Wales are conducting a feasibility study and the ideal situation would be a Steering Group including them, Welsh Water, Cardigan Town Council, Ceredigion County Council, Cadwgan/ Cardigan Castle and the Aberteifi 2010 History group. We need revised plans for the area, taking into consideration flooding issues.

However, the problem of ownership still rears its ugly head. Back in 2008-09, the application form for funding under the "Environment Improvement Programme", as part of "Big Art" clearly shows the owner as the Local Authority. There has obviously been some confusion somewhere but the important thing here is: Nothing can or will be done unless ownership is established. Local groups in Cardigan are desperately seeking grant-funding for this project but fall foul of the first question on any application form: "Who owns the site"? It must be in everyone's interests to reach a consensus on this issue so that we can move on and tackle this never-ending issue."

Ceredigion AM Elin Jones added: "“I took up the the ownership of the Strand with the Welsh Government and local authority last year, and hoped that it was on the way to being settled. It’s incredibly frustrating that the issue is still dragging on. Everyone needs to get together to provide clarity for the community.

“With the development of the castle nearby, there are important uses to which this land could be put. And it could also prove important for the continuing efforts to provide flood protection along the banks of the Teifi.”

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