Finding remains means added project costs and a delay in finding tenants.
One of the great features of many of the towns in Wales is the deep history that runs through the area. This is land that has been used by humans for centuries, and signs of those past uses are around every corner. So, when Haverfordwest planned a new development project on the Ocky White property, it didn’t know what was going to be found once work got underway.
The Ocky White Development project is one that was taken on by the Pembrokeshire County Council. Once work began, it quickly became obvious that something unexpected was going to stand in the way of the job – the discovery of ancient remains. Specifically, around 240 skeletons were found on the site, some of which seem to date back to the 1200s.
For one thing, there is the shocking nature of this kind of discovery, which is something that will unnerve some people – even if the skeletons have been there for hundreds of years. On the practical side of things, there is the added expense and delays to the timeline that have to be considered. The work to remove the skeletons properly added to the cost of the job significantly and delayed the timeline for getting businesses to commit to operating at the location.
It’s not just the discovery of an ancient burial ground that has thrown this project off course. There is also the matter of COVID-19 delays to consider, as that event brought everything to a standstill and caused costs to rise significantly. The war in Ukraine and impacts from that event have also had a ripple effect. When it is all added up, local officials are left with a project that certainly has not played out as they expected it to.
Despite the trials along the way, it does seem as though this project is finding its way toward the finish line. It is now expected to open by the summer of 2024, and while no businesses are officially committed to the location just yet, there are many interested parties and it seems inevitable that some will agree to sign on the dotted line. When it does open for business, the new development is expected to breathe some much-needed life into the town and offer new opportunities for retail shopping, jobs, dining options, and more. Ultimately, the fact that this land was once a burial ground will likely have very little impact on the long-term prospects for the development and what it can do for this part of Wales.
As time marches on, humans will have to continue to reuse and repurpose land that was once dedicated to another use – even if that use was a cemetery. After all, there is only so much usable land to work with on earth. With that said, there are some topics that tend to make people a little uncomfortable, and it may take a bit longer before businesses are ready and willing to sign on to be part of this new development.