Proposals for the next phase of Neath Town Centre’s redevelopment are about to take another step forward with the council seeking tenders for the design and construction of the new retail development.
In December last year Neath Port Talbot councillors had given the go-ahead for the ambitious scheme which will be built on the site of the now demolished building that included the former Wilkinsons and Tesco stores together with the old multi-storey car park.
The initial phase of the new look Neath saw the construction of a modern 600 space multi-storey car park to replace the old one together with a large Wilko store.
As part of this next phase, a further eight retail units will be constructed; two of these will have the potential for future mezzanine floors. There will also be 6,000 sq. ft. of flexible commercial space at first floor level that will be suitable for a variety of uses.
The council will be using the South West Wales Regional Contractors Framework to procure a construction partner, but also has to formally apply to close Fairfield Way and change Water Street to two-way traffic before work can start on site.
Councillor Rob Jones, Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council said: “I am pleased to see Neath’s town centre redevelopment now moving on to the next step.
“This council is very aware of the pressures that traditional town centres are coming under from online shopping and out-of-town retail parks. We are committed to invest in our town centres and support our local businesses, creating jobs in our communities.
Councillor Annette Wingrave, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Sustainable Development, added: “We are determined to ensure that Neath continues to be an attractive destination for businesses, shoppers, residents and visitors alike.”
This next phase of the regeneration of Neath dovetails with the role the town plays in supporting the valleys communities as a ‘strategic hub’ in the delivery of the Welsh Government’s ‘Our Valleys, Our Future’ Plan.
Neath is one of seven such hubs across the South Wales Valleys and it is hoped they will become areas of focused public investment and attract private sector capital and investment, boosting the economy and creating jobs and opportunities for local communities.
Investing in town centres and supporting local businesses is one of the council’s priorities for improvement, and the vision for Neath is to create an attractive, vibrant and competitive town that meets the needs of businesses, shoppers and visitors, whilst retaining its market town character.
Mindful of this, the council supported the establishment of a Town Centre Consortium, and more recently a Business Improvement District.
All are working together to promote the town as a great place to do business and visit, building on the popularity of annual special events such as the Neath Food & Drink Festival, which is rapidly earning the reputation for being one of the best such events of its kind in the country.
Public spaces in key areas of the town have been improved, and commercial property grants are on offer to support traders in the town to improve the appearance of their premises, improving the overall street-scene.
Robert Williams, Chair of Neath’s Business Improvement District, ‘Neath Inspired Ltd.’ said: “The creation of ‘Neath Inspired’ demonstrates the desire of the town’s businesses and the local authority to work together for the greater good of Neath. We are all very proud of our lovely market town, and we are determined to work together to build on its ever increasing reputation as a good place to invest in.”
It is planned that design proposals will be progressed over the summer so that construction work can commence towards the end of the year.