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Brynmawr: destroying more than a factory. . .

Letters

On behalf of all those fighting for Brynmawr may I thank you for all the support we have received (AJ 12.4.01). As far as I can see, over the past decade Brynmawr supporters have been open to a radical conversion of the rubber factory in order to assure its retention.

Isabel Allen can rest assured that currently we are looking towards mixed use, which might include tourism and leisure elements but would be unlikely to rely on either of these alone.

Those of us who are painfully aware of the needs and desires of the local community, realize that any (re)development of this site should not only conserve as much as possible of what distinguishes Brynmawr - a great Modernist icon in its lakeside setting - but should also bring employment to this deprived but proud town. The retail centre promoted by the local authority - against the wishes of the local people, whom they have failed to consult - will kill the thriving town centre, just as similar developments have killed that of nearby Ebbw Vale within the past couple of years.

Consequently the new centre would lose at least as many jobs as it is claimed it would create, replacing full-time and often skilled jobs with largely parttime, less skilled ones. Of course, given the lack of evidence for its economic viability, it may never be built; if so, the demolition of the listed building on site is not merely philistine but totally irrational.

Within Wales the issues of social justice raised by the way in which local authority and the Welsh Assembly are acting demonstrate, in the most tragic way, the social and political role inevitably played by architecture in communities. Across Britain the precedents raised by this case, in terms of legal interpretation and government financing of Grade II*-listed building demolition, are rightly causing grave anxiety amongst defenders of buildings of all historic periods.

It is now the eleventh hour to save those 'domed' roofs, which people of Brynmawr feel are a key part of their heritage, and which they want to see incorporated into a twenty-first century building. Now is your last chance to write to Rhodri Morgan and tell him what you think.

Judi Loach, Cardiff

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