I recently wrote to NPT Council regarding the abandoned Reggae Reptiles business premises on Queen Street, Neath. Not only is this as a horrendous eyesore on one of the busiest streets in the heart of the town, it could pose a danger to public health and safety and to the infrastructure of the neighbouring properties. I feel this situation has been left unaddressed for far too long.
The fire that destroyed this building happened over 6 years ago (February 2016) and yet the ruined carcass of the property is there still. An Abatement Notice in respect to Statutory Notice was issued 10 March 2022 by NPT Environmental Health and yet nothing further appears to have happened.
This is the response I have received from Chief Executive Karen Jones,
“In respect of the property concerned, I can confirm that officers from the Council’s Building Control section have periodically visited the property since it was destroyed by fire, and steps have been taken to erect a fence to prevent public access and ensure public safety.
I’m advised that unfortunately, the owner of the building has passed away and the property forms part of a wider Estate which is currently the subject of an inheritance dispute. Consequently, there is currently no clearly identifiable person to take responsibility for the building.
While my officers advise that the property does not pose any imminent danger to the public, its defective condition and prominent location is of concern. Furthermore, given the length of time the building has remained empty, this property has been identified as a priority for the Council to bring back into use.
As part of the Council’s strategic action plan to deal with empty town centre commercial buildings, an Officer from Environmental Health has recently made contact with the solicitors appointed to progress the probate application.
While the Department waits for a status position, I can confirm all available options are being considered to improve the visual aspects of the building and to bring the property back into use, including commencement of the enforced sales procedure if needed.”
Notwithstanding the understandable legal obstacles, I appeal to the council to make certain that the options mentioned to ensure the building is no longer an eyesore or a danger to the public are acted on with urgency.
The importance of having safe, clean and attractive town centres for shopping, leisure and hospitality must be recognised. They have a vital role to play in tackling the challenges facing our economy and society; we must take every opportunity to protect and reinvigorate them and create vibrant, prosperous communities.