“THERE'S no reason to come to Haverfordwest at the moment”.

That’s how one of the traders described the situation when our sister title, Western Telegraph, spoke to shop-owners about the demise of the county town.

Another issue raised was empty premises, with the high street littered with boarded up, dilapidated and in some cases damaged shop fronts.

Matthew Lockyer, owner of the shop ‘Matthews men’s and women’s wear’, said he was concerned how dirty Haverfordwest looks and described how people don’t seem to look after their buildings.

New information that came to light through land registry documents show that many of the problem properties on the high street are owned by one man: Harry Heywood.

Western Telegraph spoke to a business owner in Haverfordwest who approached Mr Heywood about moving into one of his empty properties.

Barry John runs the successful veteran’s charity VC Gallery on the top end of High Street.

He said that when he first started up the charity he went to see the properties Mr Heywood had on offer, and could not believe the condition of them.

“They are just shells,” claimed Barry. “Some of them have no floors and no utilities.

“Even if you wanted to fill them you would not be able to because of the amount of work they need and basic infrastructure.”

The National Wales: VC Gallery's Barry John said: “Even if you wanted to fill the shops you would not be able to because of the amount of work they need"VC Gallery's Barry John said: “Even if you wanted to fill the shops you would not be able to because of the amount of work they need"

 

The National Wales: Shop owners have raised their concerns about the state of Haverfordwest's high streetShop owners have raised their concerns about the state of Haverfordwest's high street

Pembrokeshire County Councillor Thomas Tudor, whose ward of Castle the high street is located in, has attempted to instigate change by putting forward a notice of motion to the county council calling for intervention to regenerate the centre of town.

The notice says: “I am presenting this notice of motion calling on Pembrokeshire County Council to exercise its powers, utilising acts of parliament, to put in place measures to ensure that property owners take the necessary steps to remedy the unsafe, unsightly internal and external structures and appearance of their property.”

The powers Cllr Tudor refers to include The Town and Country Planning Act 1990, the Building Act 1984, sections 77, 78 and 79, and the Listed Buildings and Conservation Act.

Cllr Tudor recently said that as of yet there has been no progress. The motion was submitted to PCC's Cabinet at the start of the year.

The National Wales: The council has been called to step in fix the problem of the unsightly propertiesThe council has been called to step in fix the problem of the unsightly properties

Powers that can be used to intervene on empty properties:

The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (Section 215) - Allows local authorities to serve notice to require an owner to take steps to remedy the unsightly land or external appearance of the property within a specified time period.

Building Act 1984 (Sections 77 and 78) - Owner to make a ruinous or dilapidated property safe or enable Local Authority to take emergency action to make the property safe.

Building Act 1984 (Section 79) – A notice to require the renovation or demolition of a ruinous or dilapidated building.

Listed Buildings and Conservation Act – Urgent works and repair notice provision under sections 48 and 54

Pembrokeshire County Council's Empty Property Enforcement Action Plan

The National Wales: The inside of some of the properties has been described as lacking any infrastructureThe inside of some of the properties has been described as lacking any infrastructure

Another tragic result of the poor management of Haverfordwest’s high street is one of the town’s last medieval remnants being built over with no one able to gain access.

The ‘crypt’, as it is known, situated across from the medieval St Mary’s Church at the top end of High Street, is believed to have been built around 1,300.

The National Wales: Mr Heywood, who owns a number of the properties says people have to 'pull together' to fix the problemMr Heywood, who owns a number of the properties says people have to 'pull together' to fix the problem

The National Wales: Mr Heywood has a 999 year lease on the iconic Shire Hall, which remains emptyMr Heywood has a 999 year lease on the iconic Shire Hall, which remains empty

Inside is vaulted ceilings and a pointed doorway, a physical record of the rich history of the town.

Sadly no one can gain access to it because the building it is under is currently empty and locked up.

Dr Simon Hancock, local historian and curator of Haverfordwest Museum, said the crypt is a precious example of Haverfordwest’s past.

“In 1369 we know there was an advert to rent out 'a vault', and that could have been it,” said Dr Hancock

“It is part of a fraction of what we have left of Medieval Haverfordwest and it would be great at some stage in the future to secure public access.”

The National Wales: The window to a 'medieval' crypt that has been built over and no one can accessThe window to a 'medieval' crypt that has been built over and no one can access

The National Wales: Is there hope for Haverfordwest?Is there hope for Haverfordwest?

Mr Heywood has responded to the appearance of Haverfordwest high street and the current status of his properties.

He said some of the units were ‘shells waited to be fitted’, but there was no interest.

He pointed to the council who he said has, as yet, been unable to find a purpose to reinvigorate the top end of town.

Mr Heywood pointed out that times are extremely difficult for businesses, and went on to say: “Hopefully, market conditions will improve and make the commercial element of these buildings viable.

He added: "Pulling together is the only way we can survive. Pulling us apart with rumour and speculation will hasten our demise.”