Aberystwyth’s Old Welsh School to become new Leisure Quarter in £3m revamp

Pizza Express and Loungers already signed up

13 September 2016
  • Yr Hen Ysgol Aberystwyth, Artists impression, Exterior, Cooke & Arkwright
  • Yr Hen Ysgol Aberystwyth, Artists impression, Interior 1, Cooke & Arkwright
  • Yr Hen Ysgol Aberystwyth, Artists impression, Interior 2, Cooke & Arkwright
  • Yr Hen Ysgol Aberystwyth, Artists impression, Interior 3, Cooke & Arkwright
  • Yr Hen Ysgol Aberystwyth, Artists impression, Exterior night time, Cooke & Arkwright

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A £3 million plan has been approved to turn Aberystwyth’s Hen Ysgol Gymraeg (Old Welsh School) into a leisure quarter, which will have the capacity to accommodate up to six different restaurants, leisure and retail units ranging in size from 1,000 sq ft up to 3,500 sq ft. Cooke & Arkwright, which is marketing the scheme, has already signed up Pizza Express and Loungers.

The historic Grade II listed building, which is located between the town’s railway station and new Tesco and Marks & Spencer, has a 14,000 sq ft footprint. The units will form part of a courtyard-style development with a tree lined walkthrough leading from the train station side to Park Avenue, which fronts onto the new Tesco and Marks & Spencer development, which is due to open in autumn 2016.

As the majority of the building is listed, the owner will be working closely with the Local Planning Authority and CADW to convert the historic building sympathetically to these alternative uses.   

Cooke & Arkwright has been appointed as commercial property agent to let the units and advise on possible tenants. Huw Thomas, Director of Retail & Leisure, said:

“Aberystwyth is a lively coastal University town and a popular tourist destination.  The aim is for Yr Hen Ysgol Gymraeg to become Aberystwyth’s leisure destination for both the local community and seasonal visitors.  We’re delighted to have secured terms with both Pizza Express and Loungers and we are now looking to seek interest from other suitable occupiers whose uses will complement and sit alongside the Pizza Express and Loungers trade, with the aim being that the development will be opening in mid 2017. 

“The new leisure quarter will be located around a two minute walk from the town’s main retailing street, Great Darkgate Street, which puts it in a prominent position for the town’s 19,000 residents, 14,000 resident students, and the many people from the surrounding areas who travel to Aberystwyth as their nearest shopping destination. Our aim here is that the development of Yr Hen Ysgol Gymraeg will attract more people into the town centre and to shop locally.”

Will Lloyd Davies from Arbenigol Property Development Consultants said “We liaised extensively with both CADW and the Planning authority throughout the planning application and are very pleased with the result which allows the opportunity of breathing new life into Yr Hen Ysgol. We are very pleased that both CADW and the Local Authority have taken a practical approach by allowing subtle changes to the building in order for it to suit modern commercial requirements and therefore preserving this beautiful historic building for future generations to enjoy”.

Cooke & Arkwright have been providing rating valuation advice to The Welsh Rugby Union Limited (“WRU”) and Millennium Stadium plc for many years. They were recently successful in achieving substantial reductions in the assessments of the Millennium Stadium, covering both the 2005 and 2010 rating list. These negotiated reductions yielded savings of c.£3.5m which, crucially, allows the WRU to re-invest in rugby throughout Wales. They advise the WRU across the group portfolio including the National Centre of Excellence in the Vale of Glamorgan. The valuation issues across the WRU portfolio are complex requiring a high level of understanding of the funding and finances of professional sport in Wales. Cooke & Arkwright’s experience and understanding of these issues and application to the rating valuation have yielded these substantial negotiated reductions. The WRU and the Millennium Stadium entrust our work to organisations with the required levels in experience and expertise in dealing with these complex issues. I am glad to say we have this expertise in Wales. I would have no hesitation in recommending ratepayers making use of this Welsh based expertise.

Steve Phillips, Group Finance Director, Welsh Rugby Union Group