Many people not familiar with Neath Port Talbot sometimes have preconceived ideas about the area.
Yes, it is true that we have a rich industrial heritage, mainly based on coal and steel. It is also the case that we have proud communities and some spectacular landscapes.
But over the past few years, the County has undergone rapid change, developing an increasing sense of self confidence and ambition for the future along the way.
That is why the Council had no hesitation whatsoever in putting forward a formal bid today to host one of the Channel 4 regional production hubs currently up for grabs.
Competition will be stiff and we are realistic that going up against a number of other towns and cities from across the UK will not be easy. However, we firmly believe that the quality of our proposal and the many benefits that the County can offer Channel 4 provides an ideal opportunity to deliver a transformative and innovative project for everyone concerned.
Located at Harbourside, Port Talbot, we have proposed a site currently in Council ownership and ready for bespoke development with space available around it for associated ventures to co-locate nearby. With its 42,000 sq. ft. R&D village, a £5.6m Integrated Transport Hub, the new NPT Group College Development for 1,000 students coming in 2019/20 and the technology and software cluster, based in the former Magistrates Court building due for refurbishment by early next year, Harbourside is an area very much on an upward curve.
Less than five minutes from the M4 and only two minutes’ walk from Port Talbot Parkway Station, on the London Paddington mainline, it provides an ease of access to the road and rail network that is difficult to rival. Ten minutes away from Swansea, half an hour from Cardiff and with two leading universities within 10 miles, Harbourside is ideally situated to bring the brightest and best talent of the South Wales corridor together.
Whilst Neath Port Talbot is well known for producing such famous names as Richard Burton, Anthony Hopkins, Michael Sheen, Katherine Jenkins, Bonnie Tyler and Rob Brydon, one of its best kept secrets is its growing expertise behind the scenes in the creative sector, in particular. Already based within the County is Bay Studios with 265000 sq. ft. of studio space and 30000 of production offices. Add to that a whole host of companies specialising in everything from lighting to sound, costumes to multimedia and a range of stunning landscapes from coastlines and beaches to urban areas, historic castles and romantic hillsides and it's easy to see why Neath Port Talbot, as the gateway to the Swansea Bay City Region, is fast becoming a popular home for many in the creative industries.
Our aim is to build on this, sending a clear message to Channel 4 and everyone else that we are open for business, have a can do attitude and are determined to deliver on an ambitious economic development agenda for the County.
Cllr Annette Wingrave,
Cabinet Member for Regeneration & Sustainable Development