£13 million boost for Neath Town Centre development

11 October 2012

Neath is to become the first town to benefit from the Regeneration Investment Fund for Wales (RIFW) with a loan investment of £13million in the redevelopment of the town centre.

Councillor Alun Thomas

Funded by the Welsh Government and the European Union, the RIFW provides loans to stimulate and support urban development projects. As the loan is repaid, it will be recycled through investments in new projects across Wales.

The Fund, managed by Amber Fund Management Limited, will play a vital role in the regeneration of Neath Town Centre by enabling the demolition and building works that are needed for the development to go ahead.

The final development will provide more than 110,000 sq ft of new retail space, linked to the existing town centre at Wind Street and a new 580 space multi-storey car park. It will create an attractive, vibrant and competitive town that will meet the needs of businesses, shoppers and visitors, whilst retaining its market town character.

Work will begin early in the New Year to avoid the busy Christmas shopping period.

Neath is a popular shopping destination and benefits from a loyal and wide catchment area. Despite its current vibrancy, the town needs to further enhance its retail offer to maintain and develop its market share and to compete with out-of-town retail developments.

Due to its historic market town character and the predominance of Victorian and Edwardian shop units, there is a shortage of modern premises of a size capable of accommodating current retail demand. The development will address this issue.

Councillor Ali Thomas, Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council said: "The Neath town centre redevelopment plays a key part in our efforts to make this county borough an attractive place to live, visit and do business.

"I want to thank all of those who have never stopped working hard behind the scenes to reach this key milestone in our vision to regenerate Neath town centre. Finally, businesses, residents and visitors will see our plans for Neath becoming a reality, and this has been made possible due to the injection of the Regeneration Investment Fund for Wales from the Welsh Government."

Housing, Regeneration and Heritage Minister Huw Lewis said: "This is excellent news for Neath, its businesses and its people. Town centres are the heart of communities, providing opportunities for jobs and leisure and ensuring that services are available locally but they are increasingly under threat from out of town shopping development and online shopping. The Welsh Government is committed to helping town centres to adapt to these threats .

"I am delighted that the Fund has enabled this project to go ahead. It will bring about many economic and community benefits. Projects such as this one, which is expected to create many new jobs, are so important in today's tough economic climate.

"The announcement also marks an important milestone as it is the first investment made by the Regeneration Investment Fund for Wales. Due to the innovative nature of the Fund, this new investment will not only have a lasting legacy for Neath, but in due course, the funding will be recycled, which will bring benefits to people in other parts of Wales."

Business Minister Edwina Hart said: "It is exciting news that Neath will become the first town to benefit from the Fund, which is supported by the Welsh Government and European Union. This investment will help transform the centre of Neath, support town centre businesses and safeguard local jobs by attracting more shoppers and visitors to the area."

Leo Bedford, Project Director, Amber Infrastructure, commented: "I am delighted to announce RIFW's pathfinder investment in a project that will safeguard the future of this important local community and facilitate long-term regional growth.

This investment wouldn't have been possible without the clear sense of purpose, and commitment shown by Neath Port Talbot Council who have been integral to the success of this project. We look forward to helping other communities across Wales secure funding that will support the implementation of similar regeneration projects."

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