Gareth Nutt Director for the Environment Neath Port Talbot Council
Up-date to Neath Inspired Marketing & Accessibility Meeting Monday 17th September 2018
Gareth made positive comments on the diversity of Neath town centre and its low vacancy rate at around 8.9%, almost half the average rate in Wales. Privately developed A3 café bars are helping to enhance the town centre offer and increase reasons to visit.
NPT Council have been active in investing in the fabric of the town grant aiding Café 46 and the Plaza Café and other businesses with development grants.
He commented on the successful partnership working between the BID and the Local Authority in providing parking initiatives including free parking, after 3.00pm, every day, on the third floor of the Multi-storey Car Park and free parking after 10.00am on key seasonal event days.
Gareth went on to confirm that town centres were a priority both for the Council and the Welsh Government. He outlined some of the forthcoming initiatives and funding streams that were announced in 2018 by Alun Davies, Cabinet Secretary in the Welsh Government, naming Neath as one of the seven valleys strategic hubs. The “Our Valley Our Futures”* project will help NPT Council fund several economic regeneration projects.
NPT Council are currently:
- Negotiating to buy the Crown Packaging site*, the former Metal Box Factory, to provide local jobs.
- Planning to up-grade Neath Railway Station, the project will be to create a better, modern interface with the town centre.
- Planning to refurbish No.3 Wind Street to develop a start-up hub for businesses.
- Progress the WG initiative: Homes as Power Stations to deal with fuel poverty and carbon issues.
- Are re-locating NPT Council Social Services employees into the town centre, having purchased the ex-County Court Building next to the Police Station.
- Negotiating a Property Enhancement and Regeneration Grant, which will be Welsh Government funded, to up-grade town centre properties.
- Global Centre of Rail Excellence preferred site in Onllwyn /Nant Helen at the top of the Dulais Valley.
On the physical regeneration agenda Gareth outlined the Boots Yard development.
Coastal Housing Group will be on site early next year, having received planning permission for a new development consisting of a 3-storey mixed use block comprising 5 units of ground floor commercial with 12 residential units above with associated changes to the existing service yard access and configuration of the public realm.
Gareth went on to explain that the Neath Town Centre Retail Scheme* for the ex-Tesco/Wilco site had been approved with Kier appointed to undertake the next phase under a design and build contract.
Kier* will now start work on detailed designs for the main retail project as part of a planning application for the second phase of the town centre re-development scheme.
There will be enabling/surveying activity on site during October and November.
Currently there are no firm commitments from potential retail stores who do not commit to “off plan” developments, however, commercial letting agents have confirmed that there is potential demand.
*Information from Our Valleys, Our Future Progress report 2018 One Year On
“A £500,000 town centre loan, in addition to an earlier £1m loan, will support regeneration in Neath Port Talbot, as part of the Welsh Government’s commitment to creating prosperity in Valleys communities. Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council is seeking to use the loan funds to acquire key sites close to Neath town centre to support major regeneration programmes. The council intends to develop derelict or under-used buildings and sites to provide residential, commercial and employment opportunities. The Town Centre Loan Fund is designed to help bring empty, underused sites and premises in town centres back into use. It supports activities that increase footfall in town centres, tackle empty sites and help businesses to grow and prosper. Once loans are repaid, the money is used again to fund new loans up to a 15-year period.”
* Approval of the Neath Town Centre Retail Scheme https://businessnewswales.com/approval-neath-town-centre-retail-scheme/
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