Three successful firms run by a Neath businessman are to be the first occupiers of the former Crown/Metal Box factory site which Neath Port Talbot Council has bought with the aim of transforming it into a major new employment centre.
Timber frame specialists Sevenoaks Modular Ltd, Hale Construction and Hale Homes, all headed by Neath’s Jonathan Hale, will re-locate to the Milland Road former factory site which was occupied for more than 70 years by Metal Box and more recently, Crown Packaging, until its closure in 2016.
Now Neath Port Talbot Council plans to convert the site, situated between Briton Ferry and Neath, into a centre for offices, construction and other uses with the potential for significant job creation.
Sevenoaks and Hale Construction, both chaired by Mr Hale, and Hale Homes, which has Mr Hale as its managing director, have acquired a major part of the former Crown/Metal Box site.
Jonathan Hale said: “The construction industry is increasingly moving towards more offsite construction methods that save time and money and this site is perfect for our expansion into this way of working across all the businesses. We look forward to creating many more high-quality jobs in the town and returning this site to its former glory as a hub of industry in Neath.”
Charlotte Hale, manager of Sevenoaks Modular, said: “The entire site will be self-sufficient in terms of the energy it will generate and require – it will be a fantastic case study for the benefits of the circular economy. Our aim is to sustainable redefine the buildings and restore the site in an innovative and eco-friendly way; we want it to be a landmark of the town again, which the community can be proud of, while also benefiting the local supply chain and keeping jobs and money in the region.”
The former factory site forms part of the Welsh Government’s Neath Valleys Strategic Hub. Neath will play a key role in the delivery of the Welsh Government’s ongoing Our Valleys, Our Future plan, designed to close the employment gap between the South Wales Valleys and the rest of Wales - creating new and sustainable jobs.
Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government Hannah Blythyn said: “I’m pleased to see our investment through the Targeted Regeneration Investment programme is breathing new life into old buildings and attracting local employers. We are committed to creating lasting economic change through our Valleys Taskforce and this investment will play a real part in this.”
Following the purchase, part-funded by a Welsh Government Targeted Regeneration Investment (TRI) grant, the first phase of the comprehensive refurbishment and re-development of the site will concentrate on work to transform it into an attractive new investment which will create jobs.
The Council is currently seeking tenders for the re-development and refurbishment work which will also involve other necessary remedial works.
The site could provide space for up to 500 jobs and as well as the decision by Sevenoaks to move in, there has also been interest from a number of other locally-based companies.
Cllr Rob Jones, Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council said: “We are delighted these well-known firms from the Hale group have seen the potential of this site by investing in a sizeable part of it.
“Our intent in purchasing the site is to develop a location which will not only assist in securing the future of local firms and employment but also in fostering opportunities for further growth and job creation.
“The decision by firms like these to re-locate to this site will inspire confidence, helping us develop it as a centre for both offices, manufacturing and other uses which will help develop expansion and growth and create jobs for Neath Port Talbot.”