Plans by housing association group Ateb to move to Haverfordwest’s former library have been given the go-ahead despite concerns about a loss of parking and the relocation of an important piece of artwork.
The former library building in the town’s Dew Street has not been used since 2012, a replacement library is now sited at the former riverside market.
In an application before the October meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council’s planning committee, W Lloyd Davies of Ateb Group sought permission for a change of use of the 1960s building to provide office accommodation, a communal cafe and ancillary community uses.
Ateb owns and controls an existing car park nearby with an indicated capacity of 126 spaces, the former library and Dew Street public car parks which are now operated as ‘pay & display’ parking.
Haverfordwest Town Council and local residents group The Dew Street Campaign had expressed concerns about the impact of the development on existing parking provision.
To partially overcome concerns officers recommended that 27 spaces, in addition to five proposed in the application, were secured in a suitable layout to serve the development.
Another concern raised about the development was cultural; the library building featuring a first-floor sculpture by David Tinker, an important modernist sculptor and painter.
It was proposed to move it where it will be less apparent to the public.
Officers are recommending a condition that requires a detailed method statement for the relocation of the Tinker sculpture.
Speaking at the October meeting, Haverfordwest sheriff Cllr Arthur Brooker, who represents Portfield Ward on Haverfordwest Town Council said it had raised concerns over parking: “We strongly feel that [Ateb] need to provide considerably more parking facilities before they get planning permission.”
He said a ‘masterplan’ for the wider site was needed: “We need to assess it on a grander scale, making sure residents have parking facilities.
“We’re not against the application but we strongly feel they need to implement more parking.”
Councillor Mark Carter, who moved approval, said: “It seems to me a very good apt use of the building that has sat there for 11 years.”
The application was passed by nine votes in favour and one abstention.
Speaking after the meeting, acting secretary of the The Dew Street Campaign, Mike Daffern – who had spoken at the meeting – said: “While the campaign recommended to the committee that the site boundary should include 48-plus car parking spaces, it’s a minor victory that the eventual figure was 32 rather than the five spaces proposed in the application.
“I think we played a part in bringing the issues to the awareness of councillors.
“It was disappointing that the committee didn’t see the need for a masterplan for the 3.3-acre site before agreeing the application, as Cllr Brooker ably presented for the town council. He also argued against current policy to squeeze parking in town.
“And we are sad that the Tinker sculpture will be moved out of position and round the corner out of sight. We hope it doesn’t fall apart in the transition.”