The Cletwr Big Build Blog

What's Occurin'?

Month: December 2016

There’s a chield amang us, takin’ notes…

…and, faith, he’ll prent it! (Apologies for the dodgy Scots accent)

This is getting worse, first it was the whispering and muttering behind my back, all those secret meeting that I wasn’t invited to, but now they’re coming out in the open and actually printing all their stories! And not just in a nice slim volume of privately-printed verse, oh no, in a local paper, the Ceredigion Herald, seen by thousands. Even worse, because some sneaky person has posted this PDF of the article, now people all round the WORLD can see it! And they mention me BY NAME! How dare they? I know what they’re planning, they think I don’t, but I have eyes and ears everywhere…

Mutter, mutter…

Anyway, what else has been happening in the world of Cletwr? Well, I’m told that there is some sort of festivity next weekend, not sure what, but I’ve been instructed to point out that Siop Cynfelyn at Cletwr has plenty of excellent products in stock, suitable for giving to people (if that’s the sort of thing you do). Allegedly the “Hampers” are a particularly good deal.

But what of the build? Things move. Our Project Manager, Jacinta, is getting in to the swing of things, and our first claim for dosh will be going in shortly. Contrary to rumour it will all be given to the Contractor, and not spent on gin for the Directors. But the biggest news is that work will start straight after the seasonal holidays (it’s ridiculous, who needs ten days off at this time of the year? When I worked for dear old Mr Scrooge we were glad to have a single day away from the office. Ah happy days!) The timber frame kit has been ordered and is due for delivery on 23rd January, so we should start seeing the shape of the new place within a matter of weeks. Of course before the frame goes up the foundations go down. And before the foundations go in there’s the small matter of converting the old petrol tanks into my underground command bunker.

Isn’t it all exciting!


We’re making plans for Nigel…

Actually I hope there isn’t anyone out there making plans for Nigel behind my back. If they are I want to know about them. And will you please STOP RIGHT NOW! I know you’re doing it…I can see you…I hear you whispering behind my back…

Oops, sorry, where was I? Oh yes, plans…

An incredible amount of work has already gone into this project, particularly in drawing up very detailed plans for the new building. These have been dplanone by our architect, Arwyn George of George a Tomos, Machynlleth.

For those interested, and in the spirit of openness that we, as a community group, are committed to (and if we’re so open why is there all this secret whispering about me? STOP IT!) we are happy to publish the plans. These were prepared for the tender process, and so there may well be some minor differences between the plans and the finished, glorious, construction. (But obviously any significant changes will have to be cleared by the Ceredigion planners, so you can be sure it won’t suddenly turn into a 100-foot-high Tescoid carbuncle).(Actually, better make that fairly sure)

For those who prefer a more 3D approach (and who doesn’t?) please see the illustrations in my previous post.

One other change – in the last post I mentioned the 40ft tall nude gold-ish statue of our revered Cadeirydd. After consideration I realise this wouldn’t be appropriate. It’s going to be 60ft high, and covered in pure gold leaf.

And so here are the plans (as PDFs)

Elevations plan     Overall site plan     The internal plan

Here’s lookin’ at you, kid

What will the new building look like?

Our architects have been working on the plans for ages, (Thanks, Arwyn), and now their wonderfully clever technical stuff has made it possible to generate some pretty piccies of what the finished pleasure dome new community hub will look like.

Obviously they’re just to give us an idea. Details will obviously change as the build progresses and we see exactly what we can afford (gold taps in the staff loo?). One obvious omission from the picture is the 40ft high gold-ish nude statue of our new Cadeirydd holding a burning torch aloft that will be outside the front door.

View from the front. The cafe will be on the left of the building, the shop on the right.

View from the front. The cafe will be on the left of the building, the shop on the right.

Don’t try and repeat this view in real life as you’ll die, the viewpoint is from the middle of the road. Note the solar panels.


Close up of the covered seating area at the front, with glass panels above.

Close up of the covered seating area at the front, with glass panels above.

View from the back of the building (the Machynlleth side). Stock rooms and kitchen etc on the left, play area on the right, and more covered seating.

View from the back of the building (the Machynlleth side). Stock rooms and kitchen etc on the left, play area on the right, and more covered seating.

Inside. Standing in the cafe area, looking towards the conter, with the shop area beyond

Inside. Standing in the cafe area, looking towards the counter, with the shop area beyond

Nice, innit?


(not sure of the rest of the lyrics, something tumpty-tumpty-tumpty-tum, tumpty-tumpty-jah)

Why the hymns (and hurns) of praise? Cos at 5pm on Wednesday 30th November we got a letter from the EU Rural Communities Development Fund. This was the final written confirmation that all our funding for the new build is in place. That means we can start signing contracts and spending money. Our builders (Davies and Evans of Penegoes, just outside Machynlleth) can start ordering things and very soon the JCBs will roll.

Many, many thanks to our funders: BIG Lottery, Welsh Government and the EU, plus Cyngor Ceredigion and Trusthouse.approval_extract

The answer my friend…

…isn’t blowing in the wind, it’s written down here.qmark

The answer to what? All those odd questions people have about the new Cletwr building. What, When, Why, Where, Who, How etc.

Read on for enlightenment…..

So, what’s all this about a new building then?

After much consultation, it was agreed in 2014 to erect a wonderful new building on the Cletwr site, which will house a new shop and caffi, as well as a meeting room and offices to support our community activities. There should be some nice landscaping too, making the whole place a worthy ‘Gateway to North Ceredigion’

Sounds good. How much is this going to cost?

About £450,000. Plus VAT…(which we get back)

Wow! Not peanuts then. Where’s that sort of dosh coming from?

A mix of sources. We had £497,000 from the BIG Lottery Fund, of which about £300,000 went to buy the site. Then we have £172,000 from a Welsh Government grant and £88,000 from an EU grant. There have also been smaller grants from Ceredigion Council and Trusthouse. And of course a small amount in donations from locals, and, if necessary, something from the surplus generated by the shop and caffi.

Times are hard. Couldn’t that be better spent elsewhere? Bronglais?

You would think so, but actually no. Most of these funds are earmarked for particular purposes, particularly tackling rural poverty and deprivation. North Ceredigion is actually a relatively poor area, even if the poverty isn’t as visible as in ex-mining communities in the Valleys. The aim of Cletwr is (amongst other things) to tackle a number of issues affecting our community – isolation, poverty, lack of services – through providing local services and facilities. We couldn’t have used the money for anything else, and if we hadn’t had the money it would have gone somewhere else in Wales, to do something similar.

But why a new building? I like the existing one.

We all like the existing Cletwr. It’s home. We’ve been familiar with it for years, and it has a nice warm friendly feeling about it. But that feeling comes from the people, not just the building. It’s the volunteers, the staff and the customers who make Cletwr what it is. And to be honest, the existing building is a bit of a nightmare. It evolved over years with extension added to extension. It has lots of unused space, but that space tends to have rising damp! Some of the materials used include asbestos (don’t worry, it’s all safely sealed in, but we’ll have to be careful with the demolition). There are cracks in the walls underneath the render. The electrics are dodgy and the heating bill is a nightmare due to the windows and general lack of insulation. (We spend £6000 a year on electricity – a lot of it for winter heating!) The kitchen needs a serious overhaul. The old flat upstairs had been condemned. A lot of money and volunteer time is spent doing DIY and repairs. And if we’re unlucky, we may find the building deteriorates to the point when we fail to meet health and safety and environmental standards. All in all, not somewhere that we want to have to cope with for the next few decades, especially if we were forced to close..

The new building will be very different. It will provide attractive, functional and much better designed spaces, (and a bigger shop and caffi), but will also be a modern, environmentally sound building, with virtually no heating requirements. Solar panels will further reduce the overall energy bill.

But couldn’t you have renovated the existing building for less money?

Yes. We considered several options for this, but the costs would still have been substantial, and we would have had to either close completely for some months, (meaning we would have to lay staff off) or at least offer a very restricted service from a Portakabin or two. Cletwr is now a very successful and popular enterprise. We’ve spent three years training people to stop here. Locals value the convenience (and the atmosphere). If we closed for six months or a year then we’d be back to square one. By putting up a new building at the other end of the site we can stay open throughout the build period, and continue to offer locals and passers-by the same services that they’ve come to expect.

And what about the flat? Aren’t you making someone homeless?

Yes, we have one flat that is rented out to a local worker. The other flat couldn’t be rented out owing to the poor condition. (We now use it for storage and offices for some of our staff). The flat that is in use is in less than wonderful condition and would need considerable expenditure in the near future to bring it up to the standards we would like.

We are helping our current tenant to find alternative accommodation.

Longer term we are considering looking at accommodation requirements in the community. Obviously Cletwr is not a housing association, but if someone is interested in working on a project to identify what the demand for smaller rental housing in the area is, (and funds for the research may be available from Cyngor Ceredigion) then it may be possible one day to work with a housing association to develop a site within the community that will meet a definite need.

So when does this all happen?

Work will hopefully start before Christmas, and the main build phase should be finished by mid summer. Demolition of the old building will have to wait until November (we have bats in the loft, and we can only demolish during the winter!) Apologies in advance for any disruption, but we’ll be working with the Contractor to keep it to an absolute minimum, and ensure site safety is enforced.

Oh yes, what happened to the petrol?

It got dropped from the plans. The safety rules about selling petrol are horrendous, you tie up £30K of capital in the ground and make 2p a litre. And Davmor got a buyer and stayed open, which meant that the Lottery wouldn’t have given us a grant if we had petrol. So, no petrol..

Can I find out more?

3D illustrations based on the architects plans will be on display in the shop, and we’ll also have the plans on display as well. You can see more of the documents, business plans etc. on our build blog at

Can I get involved?

Of course you can! The easiest way is just to keep shopping, drinking coffee and attending events as always. But we are always happy to see volunteers joining the team. Whatever you are interested in doing, we can probably fit you in. Contact or phone 01970 832113. Donations of vast sums of money (or small sums of money) probably wouldn’t be turned away.

Questions? email

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