The Riverside Venue

The Riverside Venue, located adjacent to the Back Lane car park,  will act as a gateway to Newtown’s green spaces providing a warm welcome to locals and visitors arriving by bus, foot, cycle and car. The new Tourist Information provision will help promote a whole range of activities, opportunities and businesses within the town centre and further afield, helping to bring benefits to the wider local economy.  

The building will comprise community rooms for hire, changing places toilet, tourist information provision, small retail space, bookable facilities (canoe/bike hire/event space), changing rooms, lockers, bike store, a new ‘dirty boots’ and dog friendly café with a community kitchen. External to the building there is a picnic terrace with outdoor seating and a kiosk serving hatch. 

The plans will see the removal of the dilapidated ‘Old Radio Hafren’ building to be replaced by a two floored, sustainably designed & built, iconic, low energy building for the town. 

Benefits / Impact 

We have plans for this project to create up to 9 new jobs and a further 4 indirectly, it will inject £1.5m capital investment into the economy, and will increase footfall and spend into Newtown. The modelling for the economic multiplier effect shows a plausible additional £1.5m spend over three years that could arrive to Newtown on the back of the development.  It will also provide a range of training opportunities and offer space & support to new and emerging enterprises. 

The Riverside Venue will provide a unique, architecturally designed amenity development for Newtown; making optimum use of the towns unrivalled access to green spaces, river frontage, whilst offering a fantastic location for residents and visitors alike.

This new sustainably designed Riverside Venue will be part of a wider vision to ensure that the green spaces remain accessible, for the benefit of our local community. Open Newtown wishes to improve the variety and accessibility of our green spaces, as outdoor activities have an enormous impact on our health and wellbeing as well as delivering economic benefits through tourism & enterprise opportunities, increasing biodiversity and increasing access to new facilities. 

The Venue will focus on and deliver outcomes that meet the challenging needs of our society.  It will offer something new and different for Newtown. An aesthetically pleasing, visually iconic building where people can meet, congregate, relax, enjoy their surroundings, eat, share, play and learn. The Riverside Venue represents a new phase in the development of Open Newtown’s work. In all senses, it will represent everything they are trying to achieve, and will also be a catalyst for attracting further innovative and transformational projects programmes in the town. 

The Venue is well situated, being town centre located at the head of the largest town centre car park and being one of the main entrances to the Green Spaces that stretch for miles beyond. It has river frontage on to the River Severn – the UK’s longest river. It is also next to national cycle route 81, the main town centre bus terminal and numerous walking routes. 

We have a desire to create an ambiance unique to the town.  The mythical legend of the three rivers that flow from Plynlimon: The Wye, Ystwyth and Severn, gives each of the three their own distinct characters. The Severn was said to have a relaxed, kind and calm nature; a lover of people and culture. This is something we wish to embody within the centre. 

Further details 

If you would like contact Gary Mitchell (Project Manager) about this project please complete our Feedback form and select ‘Project: Riverside Venue’ from the drop down menu. 

Working in partnership 

This project is being developed in partnership with Powys County Council (PCC), The National Lottery Community Fund Wales, Welsh Government (WG) and Newtown & Llanllwchaiarn Town Council (NLTC) 

The venue will create a more strategic and tangible link between the town centre, green spaces and the river. It is designed to add value to the wider work being undertaken to regenerate and revitalise Newtown. It will support and enhance the existing work of member organisations, partners, business sector, the Town Council, Powys County Council and Welsh Government.  

What’s happened so far 

Thursday 24th October 2019 Open Newtown (ON) in partnership with Newtown and Llanllwchaiarn Town Council (NLTC) saw the approval of plans by the Powys County Council planning committee for a brand new Riverside Venue. 

Costs & Funding 

The total cost of the Project is in the region of £1.5m, with £950k funding sought from Welsh Government’s TRI programme and the remainder from other funding bodies, but principally The National Lottery Community Fund . 

Addressing concerns  

The development proposal has received significant support amongst the community and wider stakeholder network. Five consultation events took place in the lead up to a planning application being submitted.  

Further engagement with town centre businesses lead to a revision of the planning application and business plan to help address concerns raised from some of these businesses.  

Cllr David Selby (Mayor) “I welcome the decision to move forward with the project for the new hub building next to the town centre play park. The town council is working with Open Newtown and Powys County Council to deliver an exciting new project. Whilst I understand the concerns surrounding this project, I can give assurances that the town council is working to ensure the project delivers for everyone.” 

Ed Humphreys (Town Clerk) said ‘An important role of the town council is to enable others to act – as demonstrated by the significant funding provided to the Citizens Advice Powys Newtown Project and the Community Fund. The transfer of the Former Radio Hafren Building from County to Town Council provides another opportunity to do so. However enabling others doesn’t offer a completely free hand as the Town Council also represents the interests of the people of the community as a whole.  So by using a combination of a Memorandum of Understanding and a landlord-tenant Lease, the council is able to both influence and control the way the Riverside Hub is developed and operates.’ 

Revised plans 

The revised plans make the building a showcase for sustainable development & ongoing operation.  The Riverside Venue will be a low carbon, low impact and aligned with the principles of ‘One Planet Living’.   

In light of consultation, comments received, concerns raised and planning restrictions Open Newtown have amended the Riverside Venue’s plan to align with our strong ethos, company objects and future vision ‘Opportunities for People and Enterprise through Nature’.  

We were granted full planning permission in November 2019. The Riverside Venue is proposed as a 2 story, 480m2 building with an additional 25m2 of space available at ground level. This iconic, new, building will replace an existing dilapidated building, previously housing a local radio station, known locally as the Radio Hafren Building.  

 Ground Floor 

  • Entrance Lobby 
  • Dual use Café & Community Kitchen 
  • WCs & baby changing facility (Including Newtown’s first public fully accessible Adult Changing facility) 
  • Small office & associated storage for Kitchen operations 
  • Community café space incorporating toddlers play area, dog friendly & muddy boots zones 
  • Tourist Information Provision 
  • Retail area 
  • Lift & stairways to first floor 
  • Picnic terrace 

 First Floor 

  • Three flexible partitioned meeting / training / workshops / conference room spaces which can accommodate 100 as a combined theatre style space, 64 as cabaret style and 25 in each room as board style  
  • WC’s and baby changing facilities 
  • Kitchenette (serving the flexible rooms) 
  • Office / Administration space  
  • Utility room 

 Outside 

  • Storage space and point of collection for canoes, paddleboards, bikes and possibly other sports / recreation related equipment.  
  • Potential for a new bespoke ‘Cycle Hub’ facility incorporating changing spaces, bike lockers, bike repair/service facilities area etc. 
  • The building will be connected to a toddlers play park at ground floor level and adjacent to the destination play park and existing ride on model railway, where new and additional facilities will be located to support the volunteers that operate the railway. [Text Wrapping Break] 

Alignment to National, County and local strategy 

The development of the venue underpins and reflects many of the most prevalent strategies and policies impacting on our communities; including the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, Welsh Government’s Programme of Government and Economic Plan and Tourism, Business and Regeneration Programmes, It will complement Powys Teaching Health Board strategies and priorities for healthier communities; Aligns well with Newtown and Llanllwchaiarn Town Council’s emerging ‘Place Plan’ and ‘Tourism Strategy’.  It also meets the needs of many of PCC’s Strategic Policies and Development Management Policies. 

Q&A  

Why is there a cafe?   

Open Newtown is interested in supporting a more sustainable, holistic local food economy, one that involves and engages people, one that crosses many boundaries, puts our environment at the heart of it whilst still appealing to all. Therefore, the intention is to provide a different food experience. This business plan assumes that the main ‘café’ element of the operation will be franchised out, under an agreement based on the principles detailed below (Please contact us at if interested in this exciting new opportunity) . The café will offer an appealing, changeable and interesting menu reflective of its setting, the seasons and the differing times of day whilst being aligned to the principles of Open Newtown. There will be an emphasis on locally sourced, low carbon ingredients. Dishes will be inspired by our local heritage, culture and history. 

During the day the Café will provide a mixed menu that targets the different trading time zones of the day. 

 At the same time the café space will offer opportunities for work / eat opportunities.  It will offer quality teas and coffees throughout the day, and seasonal offerings.  It will serve the needs of the newly created demand from the adjoining destination play park. Take-away and grab and go service will form an element of the food offering.  

 Open Newtown envisages the opportunities for ‘Pop Up’ restaurants to take place on many nights of the week.  For example, the café business may choose to operate on a Friday and Saturday evening only – leaving 5 nights a week for community groups, entrepreneurs and the like to make use of the facilities and to broaden the appeal of the venue.  Examples of possible uses were given during the consultation processes some examples of which included; Syrian refugee families could have the opportunity to host a Syrian themed food evening, others expressed a desire to host a purely Vegan evening or one that caters for dietary intolerances.  Another resident expressed a desire to offer Polish food evenings and others are seeking opportunities for Thai food to be showcased. Nothing along this line is available at present in Newtown. 

 The kitchen and café will offer real training opportunities for those that want to improve their skills, confidence and knowledge.  It will work closely with the catering department at the college to ensure a flow of student placements and an offer for emerging students to test their ideas and passions.  It will offer space for courses and workshops around food to be delivered.  

 The kitchen space will explore opportunities to offer and allow batch production opportunities for small producers.  

 Underpinning our core principles, we want to explore opportunities around ‘poverty alleviation’ options such as the token system where those that wish to can buy a token for a meal for someone that can’t afford one. Open Newtown are also considering targeted discounts for specific cohorts, including OAPs, Young Carers, Students, Nursing / Emergency Staff, Volunteers etc. The menus will offer different price points, meaning affordability to all. The menus themselves will show not only dietary & health information, but carbon outputs. The menus will be inclusive and use initiatives such as sign language and simples to aid those with impairments.  

 Open Newtown will explore and research opportunities for ‘contract’ catering and catering provision for the flexible rooms’ users.  Ideas include working with up to half a dozen existing food businesses in the town to be able to offer a range of ‘bookable’ options for catering, where the Riverside Venue café franchise may be one of these options – offering a low carbon option or the like.  

 Other options for the delivery of the food operation include: 

  • Joint Venture – A Possible joint venture between an established food business & Open Newtown could be considered.  
  • Fully operate the food business in house under the governance of Open Newtown. Whilst retaining options to move this out to a third party(s) in the future.   

 

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