The Gate-way to suc­cess?

Has de­vel­op­ment de­liv­ered in town?

Llanelli Star - - Front Page - Oliver Rod­er­ick @Ol­Rodle­gacy oliver.rod­er­[email protected]­di­awales.co.uk 01792 545522

IT has been open for less than ten years, but it has mas­sively changed the land­scape of the east side of Llanelli town cen­tre.

The East Gate de­vel­op­ment was in­tended to bring peo­ple back to the town in the wake of busi­nesses up­ping sticks and head­ing to out of town shop­ping cen­tres in Parc Trostre and Parc Pem­ber­ton.

Llanelli peo­ple of a cer­tain age will re­mem­ber the area as it used to look, with the Is­land House pub just off Swansea Cas­tle Round­about, and a larger bus sta­tion in the space out­side the front of the Jail House, a club that has wel­comed thou­sands of lo­cals through the decades.

Things all changed in the early 2010s, how­ever, as a new look east side of the town cen­tre be­gan to take shape.

Build­ings were de­mol­ished to make way, and in their place stood a tow­er­ing com­plex of shops, pubs and restau­rants.

Cen­tre­piece fea­tures like the Odeon Cinema, Hun­gry Horse pub and Trav­elodge ho­tel have been in place at East Gate since its open­ing, while the state of the art Ffwrnes now hosts a wide range of events, from theatre per­for­mances to live wrestling.

Other busi­nesses haven’t stuck around, how­ever – the ever pop­u­lar Joe’s Ice Cream opened on the cor­ner fac­ing the cinema in 2016, tak­ing the place of cafe Cad­walader’s. The old Scar­lets bar, with the rugby club’s name still adorn­ing the side of the premises to­day, was re­placed by the Red 10 Amer­i­can Diner, while a Pizza Hut take­away was a later ar­rival in 2014.

But what do peo­ple feel the area needs?

Food out­lets with out­door eat­ing seem to be a pop­u­lar propo­si­tion for the area.

With the likes of Red 10, Joe’s, Nan­dos and Pizza Hut on the site al­ready, some on so­cial me­dia ex­pressed hopes of see­ing more vari­a­tion.

“Some­thing like Las Igua­nas, Tur­tle Bay, or a real ale bar such as the Bucket List would be fab,” Vicky Jones said, adding: “With plenty of seat­ing out­side.”

Holly Jayne Mor­ris said: “Need a few more places to eat, some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent, some­thing Mex­i­can/Thai. Peo­ple get bored of pub grub, which can be very hit and miss.”

Nigel John, mean­while, re­ported on the good and the bad of East Gate.

“The units which have been filled are an im­prove­ment – the cinema, coffee shops et cetera,” he said.

“How­ever, on the neg­a­tive

“Where most town cen­tre shops close at 5.30pm, the leisure of­fer of East Gate with the Ffwrnes theatre, Odeon cinema, restau­rants and ho­tel, adds an evening econ­omy to the town cen­tre

Coun­cil leader

Em­lyn Dole

side there are too many empty units. Even the old Scar­lets bar has closed down.

“I think with Parc Trostre and Parc Pem­ber­ton it will be dif­fi­cult to fill these empty units. The front of the build­ings are start­ing to look shabby; just take a look at the bus sta­tion side with the red fa­cade of the build­ings peel­ing off.”

Some on so­cial me­dia were more scathing in

their re­views.

They crit­i­cised the empty re­tail units on the site, and also felt the bus sta­tion could be im­proved.

Rich North said: “This place is a dump. The empty units cost too much in rent to fill. ‘Town’ is now in Trostre, [where there is] bet­ter park­ing, big­ger shops and no junkies hang­ing around like a bad smell.”

Per­for­mances at Ffwrnes, how­ever, have gen­er­ated a fol­low­ing.

Com­ment­ing on so­cial me­dia about Ffwrnes, one reg­u­lar there, Zena Lalita, said she loved it.

“We have been to see ev­ery­thing from mu­si­cals, comedy shows and di­nosaurs with my young cousin to art classes and medi­ums, so there re­ally is some­thing for ev­ery­body, and all ages too,” she said.

“Llanelli needed a place like this. It makes a big change from hav­ing an­other char­ity shop and there is al­ways some­thing in­ter­est­ing hap­pen­ing ev­ery sea­son.”

But an­other fan, Melissa Thomas, added: “I think that more could be done to pub­li­cise events at the theatre. I have been to a num­ber of events that were not full and when I speak to friends af­ter­wards they say they would have gone if they had known about it.”

And Anne Davies added: “For one, I have never been to Ffwrnes, and the bus shel­ter is ab­so­lutely rub­bish when it rains and it’s full, mean­ing peo­ple are out­side get­ting wet. Just take a look at Swansea bus shel­ter, [which is] bril­liant.”

Re­gard­ing the empty units, an East Gate spokes­woman said: “As yet we don’t have any an­nounce­ments to make about oc­cu­pants for the two units ad­ja­cent to Hun­gry Horse. How­ever, we’re in reg­u­lar con­ver­sa­tion with po­ten­tial new arrivals and will an­nounce any def­i­nite news as soon as we are able.”

What a busi­ness there wants to see

Rhi­an­non Hol­will, gen­eral man­ager of Odeon Llanelli, said: “East Gate has been a mas­sive suc­cess so far. It has done an amaz­ing job in im­prov­ing Llanelli town cen­tre; it’s a well main­tained site and aes­thet­i­cally pleas­ing on the eye.

“Odeon, as the largest cinema chain in the UK, we’ve found a home here in Llanelli and we’re proud of all the jobs cre­ated and the in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ence we can take our guests on.

“East Gate de­vel­op­ment has cre­ated a park­ing is­sue for staff on site, and sub­se­quently the res­i­dents nearby. Staff park­ing or free park­ing for staff would be a mas­sive plus for nearby res­i­dents and staff on site.”

And the view from the coun­cil...

Coun­cil­lor Em­lyn Dole, ex­ec­u­tive board mem­ber for re­gen­er­a­tion at Car­marthen­shire Coun­cil, said: “The East Gate de­vel­op­ment has been very suc­cess­ful in at­tract­ing more peo­ple into the town cen­tre for longer pe­ri­ods of time.

“Where most town cen­tre shops close at 5.30pm, the leisure of­fer of East Gate with the Ffwrnes Theatre, Odeon cinema, restau­rants and ho­tel, adds an evening econ­omy to the town cen­tre.

“This is im­por­tant not only to com­ple­ment the day­time com­mer­cial econ­omy, but in pro­vid­ing an at­trac­tive en­vi­ron­ment for the grow­ing num­ber of peo­ple who are vis­it­ing for overnight or short stays, as well as pro­vid­ing jobs and leisure op­por­tu­ni­ties for lo­cal peo­ple.”

The Zion Chapel sur­vived the ar­rival of the Ffwrnes Theatre.

The East Gate car park en­trance as it looks to­day.

The en­trance to the East Gate car park in Jan­uary 2009. Bids to save the Is­land House pub were un­suc­cess­ful.

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