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Neath residents - 'They're replacing our heritage with flats'

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: June 09, 2012

Tony Wyn Jones outside the Empire bingo hall

Tony Wyn Jones outside the Empire bingo hall

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FRUSTRATED Neath residents claim the heart and heritage is being lost from their town.

They have been sharing their thoughts in a Facebook group — Memories of Neath Old and New — saying their cherished town is being turned into flats.

Their comments come as demolition work is due to start on the former Empire Bingo Hall on Monday.

The Coastal Housing development, which will include 12 flats for social rented accommodation, is scheduled to be completed in June 2013.

Sunnybank resident and Blaenhonddan community councillor Tony Wyn Jones said: "We don't need any more flats in the centre of Neath.

"The Empire would have been ideal for a multi-purpose centre for children."

Twelve flats have also been proposed for the old Mackworth Club — also known as the Windsor Club.

Council planners have decided to undergo a site inspection after concerns about parking were raised.

Cimla resident Jason Reynolds said: "People are frustrated with what they are seeing in Neath.

"They are taking the heritage out of the town and putting in flats.

"People moving in are going to overgrow the town and there are no facilities for them.

"People are also seeing the shops going."

There are also concerns about the shops in the town centre.

Chairman of Neath Chamber of Trade Andrew Lodwig said empty shops in the centre included the Dorothy Perkins store and the former Greggs.

"Everything is closing down and nothing is opening," he said.

"I can only sympathise with the traders and shoppers of the town with their frustrations. I am just hoping for the day when we see the contractors on site for the development."

In April a grant of £13 million for phase one of Neath's long-awaited new shopping centre was announced.

But head of property and regeneration Gareth Nutt said there was still a lot of work required before the funding could be used for the first phase.

The council is now promoting a workshop event which will be held at the Bluebell Hotel, Neath, on Monday starting at 5.30pm.

The purpose is to gather views on how to make the most of what Neath has to offer and how best to promote the town to businesses and visitors alike.

Council leader Ali Thomas said: "Neath town centre, and indeed the entire county borough, is a fantastic place to live, to visit and to do business.

"Within the current financial climate it's particularly important for us to be proactive in promoting the local area to businesses and visitors from far and wide.

"I would therefore encourage anyone with a passion for Neath town centre to join this group and help to spread the message."

gill.roberts@swwmedia.co.uk

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  • Beacon97  |  July 20 2012, 8:11PM

    The Ivy Tower, The Castle... when are these to be bulldosed for flats?!! The Empire was built in 1926 and was one of the earliest cinemas in Neath, it could have been remodelled as flats without the butchery of tearing the whole thing down and putting up a soulless block of flats. It's not the fact that buildings have to change use that bothers me, it's the complete lack of care and attention to our heritage that I object to. The Greyhound pub in Neath town centre is earmarked for destruction - and yet it is HUNDREDS of years old! Couldn't it be remodelled as a tourist information centre/shop? All it takes is a little care.

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  • Neathboy234  |  June 12 2012, 11:36AM

    what about the ivy tower. It can't have long to go now, another 10 years at the most and it will be gone. If we want to save something try saving that

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  • apharold  |  June 12 2012, 11:30AM

    why all the hot air? what heritage?? would you all like to see buildings like the Empire or other similar buildings simply decay ? the change on the old Windsor site was definately an improvement as was the erradication of the two empty petrol stations that were on windsor rd. Heritage??? the market is still going strong, the renewal of the Victoria gardens, the rebuilding of the Gwyn Hall its these are parts of our heritage, ( mind i miss the old WW1 tank that was in the Gardens) there are lots of thing that need doing but it all takes time and money, and we want entrepeneurs to take a good look at Neath and see its potential as its there...

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  • Petert53  |  June 12 2012, 10:38AM

    Cllrpeterrees Peter - I can only think that jpj1986 thinks that you are indeed me and that in the past you have 1. Had it in for him 2. Earned more than him. More likely is that it is a typo as his typing/spelling skills leave a lot to be desired

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  • sochat  |  June 12 2012, 9:14AM

    Calm down dear calm down.

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  • Cllrpeterrees  |  June 12 2012, 8:37AM

    Mr Tony Wyn Jones refers to a comment by Peter53 as coming from Mr PR .(Monday June 11th) I hope that the Mr PR he refers to , is not aimed at me. If he checks then he will see it was not me! Cllr Peter Rees

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  • sochat  |  June 12 2012, 12:49AM

    Yes Petert53 when can we expect the Neath town centre redevelopment to start.If my memory serves me correctly this great plan was first proposed by that great leader of NPTBC Coucillor Derek Vaughan over eight years ago.

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  • Petert53  |  June 11 2012, 8:24PM

    jpj1986 Do you? Do I? Did I?

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  • Neathboy234  |  June 11 2012, 7:32PM

    A agree something for the homeless would be a big help. and the bad thing is things are only going to go down hill

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  • neathres  |  June 11 2012, 7:15PM

    As a Neath resident, any development will be welcome. Who needs empty buildings when there are so many homeless people in Neath. Tony Wyn Jones needs to get into the real world and wake up to the plight of these homeless people. Th e Empire was put up for sale because of the economic climate, no money around, and if he was that confident of a multi center paying its way why didnt he put his money where his mouth is and purchase the building. Local councillors need to help the buisnesses in Neath not hinder development .leave the planning issues to the planners, who in my eyes are the professional body.

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