Mid Wales

Public in Hay-on-Wye 'kept in the dark' over store plan

Hay-on-Wye Primary School
Image caption Hay-on-Wye Primary School is at the centre of the planned development

An action group claims the public is being "kept in the dark" over plans to demolish Hay-on-Wye primary school and replace it with a supermarket.

Plan B for Hay is calling for more information about the proposal before Powys council signs an agreement over the school site.

Meanwhile, the chamber of trade fears the town's "thriving" high street could be put at risk by a new supermarket.

Developers Gaufron Developments said the concerns were premature.

Powys council has been asked to comment.

The local authority revealed in August that developers had offered to build a replacement 240-pupil school.

The school, along with land owned by the town's sports association and and the developers, is earmarked for the retail development.

Plan B for Hay claimed Powys council was on the verge of signing a so-called "option agreement", which would allow Gaufron Developments to press ahead with its project.

They said this could trigger other new developments on the land for a community hall and a 60 to 80-bed care home.

Plan B for Hay's spokesman Andy Fryers, who works for the Hay Festival, said: "The council insists this is the only way for Hay to have a new primary school," he said.

'Bulldoze'

"We all acknowledge that the children of Hay need better facilities. That's not the issue. What we don't understand is why a supermarket is the only option?"

"The desire to bulldoze this through means no-one has had a chance to even discuss possible alternatives.

Hay-on-Wye, with a population of about 1,500, has a small Co-operative, while its high street shops include two butchers, two green grocers and a delicatessen.

There are larger supermarkets in nearby Hereford and Brecon.

Chamber of trade chair John Evans fears for the future of Hay's "vibrant, independent shops".

"The town does need a new school, but this shouldn't risk ruining our thriving high street," he said.

Gaufron Developments spokesman Simon Hoare said the concerns were premature and Plan B for Hay was not fully informed.

"It has jumped the gun in presuming a new operator is moving in and de facto it must be Tesco coming to town," he said.

"The Co-operative (which has a store in Hay) is alert to the idea. They have contacted my client and want to find out more."

Responding to concerns about the high street, Mr Hoare added: "There will be people in the community who have the time and the predisposition to shop only in the high street.

"There will be others on low incomes who don't have the time or the financial resources to shop in that manner and rely on supermarkets.

"I don't think it's our job to say one is right and the other is wrong. We need to provide, in a balanced environment, the choice."

A meeting to discuss the project will be held between Powys council, the developers, the town council, the school governors, the chamber of commerce and others, on Monday.

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