AG Meek to be demolished

July 11, 2012 13 Comments »

AG Meek when it opened in 1912, left, and today, right.

AG Meek, the 100-year-old family shoe business on Roath’s Albany Road, will be demolished to make way for a convenience store after councillors approved controversial plans this afternoon.

Developers Tudor Jenkins Ltd applied to Cardiff Council for permission to knock down the shop at 97-99 Albany Road, and replace it with a convenience store and three flats.

The plans were greeted with strong opposition, with more than 20 letters of objection submitted to the council and a petition containing 282 signatures, as well as objections from local AM Jenny Rathbone, former leader of the council and Plasnewydd ward member Rodney Berman, and current Plasnewydd ward members Mary McGarry and Sue Lent.

But at a planning committee meeting this afternoon, the plans were approved, leading to the loss of what Coun Lent said was the only remaining Victorian shop front on Albany Road.

Speaking to the committee before the vote, Coun McGarry – who managed to get the decision delayed for a site visit at the last planning committee meeting – outlined concerns including road safety, with four deliveries a day planned for the store.

Planning documents said these deliveries would take place between 6am and 9am on Albany Road. Coun McGarry pointed out that this would be during rush hour when traffic is heavily congested in the area, with cars coming out of side streets would be forced to creep into the road to see round delivery vehicles.

She said: “It is already dangerous as cars try to cross two lanes of traffic, and pedestrians are crossing trying to take their children to school.”

She also raised concerns about the increase in rubbish the development could cause, and said AG Meek was a traditional shoe shop with a Victorian frontage.

“It’s got a history,” she said. “It was hit by shrapnel in the war. It’s the last Victorian shop in that whole area. It would be terrible to lose it.”

Coun Lent – who removed herself from her role on the planning committee to speak on the proposal – said the deliveries on Albany Road would cause “absolute chaos”.

She added: “It just seems like complete vandalism to knock down a perfectly good original building, not to be converting what’s already there. To demolish it is very unpopular locally. It’s the last of the original shops, and it’s a very well used shop. People in the area feel very strongly about it.”

But planning officers told the committee that they had recently spoken to heritage body Cadw, who had said the building was not worthy of listing, and although many committee members were sympathetic, they felt there were no planning reasons to refuse the application.

Deputy chair of the committee Coun Garry Hunt said: “Anybody born and brought up anywhere near this will remember being dragged to this shop and it’s very much a part of all our lives. It’s got character, it’s an important building. This thing about listing is a difficult one – I find it very difficult. I would be looking for any reason to refuse this but I am having some difficulty doing so.

“The design is better than it was. The parking is a difficult isue when it’s not a change of use it’s a change of shop. I do not like this aggressive planning that these shops do – there’s an awful lot of this sort of thing going on.

“The difficulty is in my conscience I cannot find a reason to reject this and I think that’s a terrible shame, but it’s a fact of life.”

Coun Adrian Robson added: “Unfortunately it’s not a conservation area and not recommended by Cadw for listing. I find it difficult in terms of planning reasons to refuse – though I would like to see it stay personally – but can’t find anything planning wise.”

The application was approved, with conditions, with six councillors voting in favour of the development, one against and one abstention. Councillors agreed to ask the applicant to restrict deliveries to 6am-8am, and the developer must contribute £35,000 towards the cost of public realm improvements around the site.

David Meek, of AG Meek, could not be reached for comment tonight. It is understood the business has agreed to leave the premises in September.

What do you think of the committee’s decision to approve the demolition of AG Meek? Should buildings be saved even though they aren’t listed? Let us know in the comments below. Here are some of your reactions on Twitter.

 

 

 

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13 Comments

  1. @marijeangordon July 11, 2012 at 7:37 pm - Reply

    The listing issue is a complete red herring. Buildings can have value without having to be listed. And, just how many supermarkets does Albany Road need? Thriving, healthy communities need diversity and a sense of identity, not countless national supermarket chains.

    • hotb July 16, 2012 at 11:00 am - Reply

      Quite agree. What is a convenience store, anyway? Somewhere selling cigs to school kids, and cheap booze – it'snot as if such shops aren't already present in profusion in the Albany Road area!

  2. Robert July 11, 2012 at 8:31 pm - Reply

    I live nearby and walk past the shop on most days. I have never entered the shop, and I feel no particular nostalgia or affection for it. I'm not sure what a convenience store would add to Albany Road – with a Tesco, an Iceland and a Home Bargains, it seems there are plenty of convenient shops there, and the Tesco Express on Welffield Road is rather near, too – but I also do not understand why people are making a fuss over the demolition of a building that is, to casual observers, fairly unremarkable.
    (Conversely, I do not recall hearing any objections when the visually remarkable, though defunct, Inn on the River was demolished and replaced with a block of flats – now that was a building that stood out. I suppose its bad luck was that it was not located in a posh residential area like Roath, but in altogether more bleak Grangetown…)
    Does anyone know which convenient store chain will move in? Or will this be a development resulting in an empty store front? (And, while on that topic, what, if any, shops are moving into the recently refurbished church hall building on Bangor Road? Or is that remaining empty?)

  3. Sue Tibbits July 11, 2012 at 8:36 pm - Reply

    A.G. Meek to be demolished??"The fashion was unique !" went their old advert I think but what a shame…no originality in planning. Just let's be the same as everywhere else. Sad news Cardiff.

  4. Mord July 11, 2012 at 9:27 pm - Reply

    Cardiff council do not care where a building is situated or what character it brings to this once lovely city..I'm thinking The Vulcan, the inn on the river to name but a few..they appear to want to whitewash the city to make it look and feel like every other concrete wasteland. Whoever granted the planning permission for the ugly bay buildings ( proudly boasted by Cardiff council as "europe's most exciting waterfront"!!- mmmmm debatable!) is probably also responsible for granting permission to knock down A G Meeks., yet another unremarkable building that is also unique to Cardiff's character. At some point fairly soon, I wouldn't mind betting that the same person will soon wonder why no-one wants to visit Cardiff anymore? Why locals don't want to go into town much? And hopefully, why they as a council were so greedy and money motivated in the first place..probably while they themselves have retired to some equally ugly concrete mess, just in the French riviera instead

  5. David Meek July 11, 2012 at 10:44 pm - Reply

    We will be sorry to close our Albany Road shop after 100 years continuous trading. There is something wrong when a sucessful local business has to go to make way for another convenience store. However we have three other stores, we will be opening at least one more this year and we are still looking for another shop in the Albany Road area. I would like to thank customers, local residents and councilors for thier efforts in support of our business.

  6. Twm July 12, 2012 at 12:16 am - Reply

    Is it right that AG Meek have had the building or lease sold from under them and would prefer to continue trading there? Thought I read that in a previous article?
    If the company is closing the branch or relocating then the complaining is pointless as it could otherwise be left empty.
    The story does however highlight a weakness in planning law – which means councillors are unable to take any action regarding the area becoming saturated with larger convenience stores.
    I presume this is because such shops don't require change of use planning permission.
    If they did councillors would be able to consider the existing number of such permissions (outlets) and reject an application if it would change the nature of the area through having too many of the same kind of business uses.
    This already applies when an applicant wishes to change a building's use from retail, to residential or takeaway premises for example.
    It should also be noted that granting a building listed status doesn't necessarily prevent it from being demolished, it is an additional protection but NOT a preservation order.

    • David Meek July 12, 2012 at 8:48 am - Reply

      We would have liked to stay but our lease is up. Requests for a new lease or for us to buy the property were turned down. The property is more valuable let to a supermarket operator. You are correct that the fact that change of use was not required left the planners with little to argue over.

  7. Richard_Daley July 12, 2012 at 9:53 am - Reply

    Such a shame
    I remember seeing a Labour leaflet before the election on this issue with the heading "Council Sticks The Boot In". I'm sure many local people voted for them based on this issue.
    But isn't the Council now run by Labour? …..only saying.

    • @Joe__Boyle July 12, 2012 at 11:18 am - Reply

      You're correct that Labour made this a key feature of their local election campaign. When it came to the planning committee, however, there was nothing in the regulations that allowed them to stop the application.
      This raises two issues. First, planning law is clearly flawed. Secondly, Labour knew full well there was little that could be done to prevent the application. They were therefore less than straight in their electioneering.
      Improving planning regulations is a fiendishly difficult conundrum (though that shouldn't put us off trying). Dealing with politicians who pledge one thing only to do another is perhaps slightly easier.

      • Richard_Daley July 12, 2012 at 12:41 pm - Reply

        That's a bit of a sneaky thing to do.
        They also promised a return to weekly black bag collections but now say that can't be done.
        And in Splott and Adamsdown they called for a halt to the Incinerator – that's still happening.

        Is anyone keeping a record of all these broken promises?

        • Twm July 13, 2012 at 12:26 am - Reply

          If Labour made a campaign issue of it that would explain why Cllr Sue Lent gave up her chance to vote on the issue to speak against it instead, that is to swap her position of influence as a councillor to be no different to the rest of us – someone with an opinion but no vote.
          Cllr Lent of course knew that having spoken against the application she would have been found to have a pre determined position -meaning she shouldn't vote on the application and if she did any refusal would likely be overturned on appeal.
          What Cllr Lent and especially Jenny Randerson AM need to do now is contact David Meek and other business owners and find out how common such situations are and whether planning law needs reforming.

          • Twm July 13, 2012 at 7:06 pm -

            Obviously I should have said Jenny Rathbone AM rather – not her predecessor Jenny Randerson.

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