IAN GOUGH: Rugby star wants to transform derelict Bridgend building
A former Wales rugby star wants to turn a disused building in Bridgend into shops, accomodation and office space.
Ex-Wales rugby player Ian Gough, who owns the former Family Value building on Commercial Street, Maesteg, plans to transform it and put it back to good use in the community.
Mr Gough said he is determined to restore the historic building and “get it back looking how it was in its heyday”.
“It’s really exciting. The building has been derelict coming up to 15 years now and it seems to hold a special place in the hearts of everyone I know in Maesteg.”
The building has been vacant for years and most recently housed a Family Value shop.
Mr Gough and officers from Bridgend County Borough Council have secured a £250,000 grant from the Welsh Government to refurbish the building.
Plans are in place to build two shops on the ground floor and basement as well as replacement shopfronts, a new roof, and new windows.
Separate plans are pending to transform the upper floors of the building into accommodation.
“It was quite an iconic building and the exterior of it is so nice. It would be good to get it back to its original state and retain as many features as we can,” said Mr Gough, who bought the building two and a half years ago.
“It’s pretty much falling down at the moment but within six to eight months we’re hoping the whole shell of the building will be completed with new windows and a roof.
“With Covid and everything else it’s been quite an effort to get it to where it is now. We’re in a really good place so we’re hoping to get started on it by the middle of April.
“It’s really exciting to get that part of the high street and that building up to a really good standard. Ever since we bought it a little fire’s been in us and it’ll be a fantastic project to push through so it’s been worth the wait.”
Mr Gough said there is a “shortage of accommodation” in the area and he aims to restore the retail units in the building to “a very modern, attractive spec”.
“We want to attract more footfall down Commercial Street. We want it to be bustling.”
Mr Gough said he knows Maesteg well because his sister used to own a catering business in the town and his former Ospreys team mate Matthew Jones “kept an eye” on the building for him as his wife owns a nearby hairdressing salon.
Ross Penhale-Thomas, independent councillor for Maesteg West, said: “The building has been an eyesore for as long as I can remember and has been allowed to fall to wrack and ruin. So this investment is very welcome.”
According to Cllr Penhale-Thomas, before the building was used as a Family Values store, it was another shop called Leslie’s, which sold “a wide range of goods”.
He added: “Back in the early 20th Century it was a grand building belonging to Henry Lavier who was a tailor and outfitter.
“Anybody with a modicum of pride in the Llynfi Valley would be embarrassed that it’s one of the first buildings you’ll see when entering the town centre – for outsiders looking at Maesteg, it clearly wouldn’t send out the right message that we’re worth a punt on investment.
“We’re lucky to have some fantastic, independent retailers offering a range of goods so we need to build on their successes and continue to tap into the community spirit that would ordinarily mean people in Maesteg are more inclined to shop local if the goods are available closer to home.
“Ultimately, I am confident that projects of this magnitude – together with the huge investment in Maesteg Town Hall – can act as a catalyst and demonstrates Maesteg is open for business and is worth a punt.”
A spokesperson for Bridgend Council said: “The refurbishments will bring a prominent building in the heart of Maesteg town centre back into use, prevent it from being used for illegal and anti-social behaviour, provide high-quality commercial units and the potential for developing new residential accommodation in the future.
“Planning permission is in place, and it is hoped that contractors can begin work as soon as next month.”
Words: Hannah Neary, Local Democracy Reporter
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