Ambitious plan will pull down 1960s toilet block

Tuesday 22nd March 2022 5:00 pm
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Artists impression of the toilet block scheme
(Artist impression )

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An ambitious plan to redevelop the town’s gateway area has been revealed by town councillors.

The 1960s toilet block, erected by a Lydney building company to service the former cattle market under the reign of Monmouth Borough Council, has been a blot on the landscape for a number of years and plans to redevelop the area have always come to nothing.

The first such plan was suggested over 20 years ago and a model was made by Alfie Goodrich. A ‘welcome centre’ would replace the toilet block and incorporate refreshments and possibly some tourist information but came to nothing.

The second in 2013, was the £2million Gateway Monmouth project, a redevelopment of the river bank and a building built on the present car park, again incorporating a refreshment area with indoor and outdoor seating area, a market store and the Tourist Information Centre.

A European-funded £200k feasibility study gave birth to plans drawn up by landscape architect team Macgregor Smith, which included a shared space for pedestrians and traffic across the corner of Monnow street and Blestium Street and the plans were given the go-ahead by the local authority.

There were also hopes of creating a community orchard, restructuring the river bank and building a stone paved civic square with the capital funding to be drawn from the local Rural Development Plan, but the ambitious plan foundered and sank.

An attempt to rescue them by the Monmouth Partnership Forum who looked to the National Lottery ‘Creating your Space’ for alternative funding, was unsuccessful.

Now, in 2022, the town council in one of its budget-setting meetings, has earmarked a reserve funding of £30k this year and a further £60k over the two years on the basis that it would be match funded by Monmouthshire County Council.

Councillor Mat Feakins, lead councillor on the project said the plan would create a “new pedestrianised area in front of the town’s historic bridge for more family seating, possible local music and art events and greatly improving the historic setting of national significance”.

The plan includes replacing the toilet facility with a modern block located next to the Blestium Street car park entrance.

“The modern block’s running costs are likely to be less then a third of the present block’s and something the town can be proud of”, he added.

Vehicle access to the allotments would be retained and he suggested the much-admired ‘Green Wall’ on the present block provided by the Community Champions could either brighten up another area of town or be incorporated into the new facilities design.

Cllr Feakins added, “We have the only remaining fortified river bridge in the whole of Great Britain, this is a national landmark and one of our town’s Unique Selling Points, we must do everything we can to enhance the setting”.

The councillor for the adjacent Drybridge Ward, Jamie Treharne, said “anything that can improve the area is welcome”.

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