On a recent visit to Port Talbot, Lesley Griffiths AM saw first-hand the progress made in the first year of the town’s Vibrant and Viable Places Regeneration Programme.
Last year Neath Port Talbot Council secured funding from the Welsh Government’s Vibrant and Viable Places (VVP) programme to undertake a number of Regeneration projects in the town centre, working alongside key partners. The programme will see over £30m invested in a number of projects in and around the town centre.
The objective of the Programme is to create more versatile and diversified town centres that are not solely focused on retail provision, but encourage people living in the town centre to enhance and extend the vitality of the town.
There is also an emphasis on VVP Programmes to provide additional training and employment opportunities in deprived areas.
The Minister visited the Green Park site, where Coastal Housing has started construction on 34 affordable homes including houses, bungalows and flats, following the excavation and recording of the remains of one of the town’s oldest tin plate works.
Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty, Lesley Griffiths said:
“The Vibrant and Viable Places programme is proving to be a game-changer for Port Talbot, transforming the local area. The Programme is supporting a vast range of vibrant and diverse projects – from affordable housing and commercial space, to a cultural hub and transport services.
“I am pleased to see first-hand how the Welsh Government’s £10 million investment is benefitting local people and supporting the economy of Port Talbot by creating jobs and training opportunities.”
During its lifetime the VVP Programme is expected to create more than 20 new apprenticeships and contracts for more than 100 small to medium Welsh companies.
Just across the road at the Burrows Yard site, the Council and Coastal Housing are also working together to bring forward a residential led development.
Gareth Davies, Coastal Housing’s Development Director said, “This is an exciting scheme for Port Talbot that will provide not only high quality affordable homes for families in the area but job opportunities for local people too.
“This follows on from a number of other schemes we have completed in Neath Port Talbot including Customs House and Jubilee Court so we hope Green Park will be just as well received. We’re excited to be delivering another important project in partnership with Neath Port Talbot Council and Welsh Government.”
Plans are also progressing well for a number of other projects right in the heart of the town.
Grŵp Gwalia has submitted a planning application to Neath Port Talbot Council to redevelop the former Port Talbot Police Station. As part of the plan, the existing Police Station will be demolished and a new three storey building constructed with 30 new apartments on two upper floors and around 600sq.m of new commercial space on the ground floor. If approved, the 15 month contract is expected to commence early in 2016.
The business plan to develop the former Plaza Cinema into a sustainable multi-purpose cultural hub has been accepted and the Council is now seeking additional funding to ensure the long term viability of the project. It will include a flexible auditorium, gallery, exhibition space, café and media and creative production facilities.
Designs for a mix of new housing and commercial units are also progressing at the Glan Afan Comprehensive school site.
Many of these regeneration projects are targeted at key locations in the town centre, in close proximity to Port Talbot Parkway Station. There, proposals are being drawn up for a new public transport hub and open space following the completion of the station’s £11.3m redevelopment work.
Another first year success of the VVP Programme is the Neighbourhood Renewal project where 133 homes in Port Talbot have benefited from energy efficiency improvements, with some having received additional renovation works making them more secure and weather proof.
Leader of Council, Cllr. Ali Thomas OBE said: “I am pleased to see good progress being made on this important regeneration programme in Port Talbot. It is good news for the residents and businesses of Port Talbot and surrounding areas.
“The programme will complement other successes such as the completion of Harbour Way, the first phase of the town’s Harbourside quarter and the redevelopment of the Parkway station.
“It will bring about a genuine transformation of the town, ensuring Port Talbot plays a major role in the future of the Swansea Bay City Region”.
For more information on regeneration in Neath Port Talbot visit www.npt.gov.uk/places