Robert Lloyd


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Llandeilo businessman Simon Buckley drafts plan for Market Hall

user image 2014-01-08
By: Robert Lloyd
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Llandeilo businessman Simon Buckley has published innovative plans to renovate Llandeilo's historic Market Hall.
The chief executive of the Evan-Evans brewery has sent his draft document to Carmarthenshire Council.
Here is what the document says -

Llandeilo Land
The Old Market Hall
Expression of Interest
The Old Market hall is an important historic building in the centre of Llandeilo.
The building is run down and dilapidated, and represents a major challenge for the development of a commercial hub that will serve as the launchpad for the creation of jobs, and the development of ancillary internet-based businesses.
This plan sets out the proposal for a novel and dynamic approach to bringing this building back to life and creating the necessary portal for jobs and wealth creation.
This is a business opportunity not for private developers but for a community-based project, that will be self-financing once built and will offer a template for other communities across Wales to follow.
The plan is written with the full understanding that the landowner has no capital to invest, and that the extent of the project is beyond the experience and reach of most if not all of the community schemes that have over time been considered for this project.
The project promoters will recruit a strong professional team that will create a new commercially-led community asset that will be the first step of the regeneration of elements of Llandeilo, and will drive new job opportunities, and create increased footfall for the benefit of the wider retail environment.
This is no airy-fairy scheme, but a plan that has vision for the creation of jobs for the future of Llandeilo, its young professional class, and an opportunity to show how regeneration can be started and delivered in an austere market place.
The Project
The Old Market hall has the opportunity to act as an important kick start project to bring investment to the town.
The building represents a major piece of real estate that has the ability of being developed for many varied and different uses. However, the long term viability of the site dictates that the development has to be based, on creating long term viable business opportunities that are sustainable. These business opportunities will give the young of Llandeilo the opportunity to work in the town, and not to have to commute to other service centres such as Swansea.
Sustainability is the key to the successful development of this site.
Initial surveys of the building show acute degradation of the fabric of the building with advanced wet, dry, rot and masonry failure. There are environmental issues including asbestos, a possibility of animal-based contamination and wider development issues.
Initial surveys have indicated that to get the site ready to fit out will cost in excess of 500,000, and that a fully finished product will sit at the top end of a budget range of 1.5 million.
This, therefore, puts this project beyond the reach of most private community backed projects, and private capital in the current market is not being invested in high risk projects.
Proposed Development
The development will be a mixed use development. The objective is to create a three part development that encompasses the ground floor, a new mezzanine first floor, and access to roof space as an outside elevated garden space.
The site will be developed to utilise many of the existing buildings but also to maximise space for outside activities.
The Market Hall Building will be developed to create a new landmark development. It has The Llandeilo factor and the ability to attract quality tenants.
The development will create a new Regus style serviced office environment with a mixed client base target market. The office space will be designed to attract small to medium sized professional service and start-up business tenants.
In addition, part of the office development will be designed to promote Llandeilo as an internet hub for growth business opportunities.
The project will be designed to have a Covent Garden type internal open space that will be a light well bringing light and dimension to the inner part of the building. This will be available for music festivals an entertainment, including pop up cinema, and will integrate with the proposed A3 use, which will form part of the development.
It is proposed to create a historic landmark brewery visitor centre that will act as anchor tenant to the project.
The proposal will be to create a 365-day tourist attraction and education centre that will promote the rich brewing history of the county and the modern day success that is Evan-Evans, Waless leading specialist brewer.
In 2017, that company will celebrate a quarter of a millennium of brewing history. This attraction has already attracted significant interest from national coach companies that will create between 35-50,000 visitors per annum.
This will then tie back into the third part of the development that will incorporate the development of a farm shop concept, that will promote food produce grown and reared in the Tywi Valley, and then will tie into the brewery shop, and food and drink internet hub. This unit of the development will be utilised to drive artisan skills through enterprise schemes and co-op style profit sharing with producers. This will be hard-nosed commercial, but will offer high profile opportunities for the development of unique marketing opportunities for farm produce via Internet and trade sales.
In addition to the office suite and the food led aspects of the development, the development will be designed to have an integrated weekly weekend market, based on the Borough Market model where stall holder come and populate the stall for weekends only. The stalls will populate the external curtilage of the property, and create opportunities for people to showcase their local produce. Initially this will not drive revenue but once established stall space will become premium, and limited, and thereby create significant new footfall and to bring new customers to the town.
Within the proposed development will be the development of a new tourist Information hub, that will drive and promote Tywi Valley tourism opportunities, and through a new marketing manager drive and co-ordinate the towns festivals, to maximise revenue, and to make sure that there is a clean route to market.
Key to the success of this project is the development of a well thought through parking plan. This involves the development of new parking zones, the long term strategy for the ambulance and fire station with the creation of apportioned parking on the north western approaches to the town.

This project is likely (with the parking areas being developed on the ground to the south west of the Market Hall) to come in between 1.5 to 1.75 m.
To be able to fund this project and to allow it to be developed to the advantage of the community, it needs to be developed through a unique vehicle, that allows people to think outside the box, and that is essentially a charity, that will allow that charity to access cash from the Heritage Enterprise Scheme.
The proposal is to establish a new vehicle to be known as Llandeilo Land.
Llandeilo Land will be established to take ownership and to develop the market hall, to a specified plan that incorporates the brief proposals as set out above.
Llandeilo Land will then lease the finished asset to a trading company that will drive the commerciality of the property ownership, and drive the rental income to promote the concepts encompassed by the charity, and also to make sure that there are no conflicts between potential anchor tenants and trustees.
The revenues will then be ploughed back into the business for future projects, and driving the longevity of the market hall.
Once Llandeilo Land is formed, the charity will make contact and access with Heritage Enterprise and other grant bodies to put together a detailed financial plan.
The proposal to establish Llandeilo Land as a suitable vehicle is a costly start up and therefore there needs to be some degree of commitment from the vendors to a period of exclusivity for final plans and costs to be put together for the raising of cash.
The board of Llandeilo Land, who will legally be Trustees, who will be made up of professional advisors, and lay people from the community of Llandeilo.
The body will include the County Councillor and the Town Council mayor. But there will be no massive committee as this will prevent progress.
The initial chairman will be Simon Buckley who will put together a team of advisors, who will each be an expert in their relative fields.
The provisional board has already met, and includes at this very early stage, members from Menter Bro Dinefwr, and other business people who are committed to working up a development plan.
The company has appointed DTZ to give property advice, as to the viability of the proposal. Deloittes are being asked to advise on the set up of the charity and to provide support for a grant application.

Land Value
The Old Market Hall has no value. The building in its current state is a liability, and without good tenants, and long term vision the ability to develop the goodwill does not exist.
The piece of land that is offered with the Market Hall has some value, but that is limited to the fact that it will have to be used to support the development of the Market Hall, and to provide car parking. The land value therefore is limited.

What do we want?
1. An exclusivity to finalise the proposal, and to involve planners, and CADW in the preparation of a detailed business plan. This would be for 12 months.
2. 20,000, or a figure to be agreed following tender for a detailed architects plan to support the business plan with a fully costed option for the development of the site. This will revert to the council if the project does not proceed.
3. The Market Hall gifted to Llandeilo Land with a conditional contract that forfeits if development cannot proceed, which includes the side land, with an apportioned cost deferred for a period of time to be agreed.
4. Council support to help market the project once the project is nearing completion.

Is this a fully funded done deal?
Clearly not.
Is this the starting point for a well thought through project that will act as a trigger for the redevelopment of the town?
Is there a will to drive this project for the growth of Llandeilo?

Can it work and relieve the county of an environmental problem?
Without doubt.
We at Llandeilo Land hope that this expression of interest is able to secure further discussions and a commitment to move the project forward.

Simon Buckley on behalf ofLlandeilo Land - December 2013.
Link to Carmarthen Journal story -