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Neath traders' joy as £13m revamp gets start date

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: October 11, 2012

An artist’s impression looking from the junction of Water Street and Victoria Gardens

An artist’s impression looking from the junction of Water Street and Victoria Gardens

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TRADERS have hailed it as the good news Neath has been waiting for.

Work on the £13 million first phase of the long-awaited town centre redevelopment will finally start after Christmas.

It will see a new multistorey car park go up alongside Neath Civic Centre with the existing multistorey demolished and shops built in its place.

Neath Chamber of Trade president Andrew Lodwig said: “This is brilliant news and it has been a long time coming.

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“We have been going through a long, dark tunnel and now people can finally see the light at the end of it.”

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

Funded by the Welsh Government and the European Union, the RIFW provides loans to stimulate and support urban development projects.

The scheme, 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 as well as the new, 580-space multistorey car park.

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 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.”

Council leader Ali Thomas 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.”

Business Minister Edwina Hart said: “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.”

Amber Infrastructure project director Leo Bedford said: “This investment wouldn’t have been possible without the clear sense of purpose, and commitment shown by Neath Port Talbot Council, which has 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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  • JamieEvanss  |  November 18 2012, 1:11AM

    About the last tweet, I'm acting alone and I am Jamie Evans just using two accounts. When I mentioned "two friends" and "floats your boat" in the same sentence I think you all know what I was getting at given my sexual preferences ;) The £13 Million grant is nothing alone! I **** more than that in food left overs.

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  • jamievz  |  November 17 2012, 11:17PM

    I would just like to point out that the comment made by "JamieEvanss" was a "troll". Done by two very immature friends. And if that's what floats their boats, each to their own I suppose.

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  • AndyJenkins84  |  November 17 2012, 10:21PM

    You haven't been short changed by £67 million. The article clearly states that this £13 million pound development is the first phase of development and regeneration spending.

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  • Neathboy234  |  November 17 2012, 8:18PM

    I thought young gay men could make heir own entertainment.

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  • jamievz  |  November 17 2012, 5:38PM

    In what way is this good news?! We've been shortchanged by £67 million! Neath Port Talbot council are spending the same amount on redeveloping one of the largest, oldest towns in Wales, and the main town of this county borough as they are on a swimming pool in Port Talbot! We are yet again coming second best to the dump that is Port Talbot! When will the plebs in the council realise that Port Talbot is NOT the centre and the universe and that no matter how much money they throw at the town, Port Talbot will EVER be up to the standards of Neath? Despite only being 17 myself, for as long as I can remember, and most of my family can remember, we have always been promised a shopping centre in the town. I'm no expert, but I'm sure it doesn't take seventeen years to build a shopping centre. I also find it both laughable and pathetic that NPTCBC wouldn't allow BHS to come to Neath, yet they welcome Poundland, Bright House and charity shops with open arms! They are doing their best to run Neath into the ground to make Port Talbot look a slightly respectable town, which, we all know too well, will never happen, "can you polish a ****?" There is no sense of fairness and equality in NPTCBC, with the majority council's services being located in Port Talbot, they also took £3m from the Gwyn Hall budget to put towards the Afan Lido. This is madness! I can't understand why us, the people of Neath are hailing this pathetic investment as a success, look at the people of Port Talbot, they're complaining because they don't think enough is being spent on their swimming pool, this will probably, given the disgusting biases of NPTCBC against Neath, result in us loosing more money so Port Talbot can have more investment! If you want further evidence of this, just look at Aberafan beach, the wooden park was up for 7/8 years, already it's been replaced, the playground facilities in Skewen park are over thirty years old. Port Talbot is having a new £7m train station. Neath? POSSIBLY £2m. Ever since the creation of the local authority of NEATH Port Talbot, NEATH has been treated as second best.

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  • Scooter22  |  November 08 2012, 10:09AM

    Parachute club/workies! that the word on the street. If the council want the public to shop in Neath or other similar towns or villages, why dont they stop the likes of Tescos express shops, thats whats killing the towns,like locusts.

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  • Eureka1963  |  October 11 2012, 10:51PM

    Unfortunately the people of Neath & its surrounding area (in general), cannot afford to lavishly spend when they visit the town, and those who can go to the cities or the retail outlets. This is the reason why major retailers leave or avoid Neath, and by moving a multi-storey car park from A to B and pitching up new units will not make the people of Neath wealthier. The empty shops (and there are many off them) are empty for a reason, and it isn't because they are in the wrong part of town. The shops that do flourish in Neath are not the well to do stores but the Pound shops, money lenders, pawn shops, charity shops - so that alone should demonstrate the lack of revenue and if it wasn't for these Neath would be a ghost town. How do you expect to attract this new business when there are people begging on the streets? Yes, any investment is welcome but £13m will not go far, but at least the civil servants will have a nice shiny car park next to their nice shiny office.

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  • nice_nails  |  October 11 2012, 6:01PM

    Does this £13 million revamp make the rates cheaper for shop keepers, no therefor a total waste of money. Also why is the recently laid tarmac on the flyover being relaid and who is paying for it

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  • flepwales  |  October 11 2012, 6:01PM

    AndyJenkins 84 I hope you are right, to be successful a town has to be competitive and convenient, Neath will never be able to compete with the internet or out of town shopping and it certainly isn`t convenient, it is convenient for the unemployed and retired but it closes when the rest of us finish work. If some of the retailers move to the new development then that would leave empty shops in the part of town they were originally. Neath council lacks vision, I would have got a shopping centre developer on board to put a Shopping Mall on Fabian Way, there are good reasons for that. A The opportunity to develop something before Swansea does it and Neath gets the benefit. B A new student campus is going to be built there (plenty of customers) and it would serve Neath and Swansea. C Shopping malls are mainly clothing, shoes etc, most people want to try clothing on so these haven't been hit as hard by online shopping. D They are normally open till 10pm so there's somewhere to go in an evening (when you finish work) and they normally have a selection of good eateries and some have a cinema, they are also under cover and pleasant places to be Summer and Winter. What's there to do in an evening here now? And for those without a car they also usually have free busses. Towns like Neath have to move with the times, I think they will become more residential and independent retailers (not national chain stores) will move in to service the residents ie hardware shops, grocers, butchers etc.

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  • AndyJenkins84  |  October 11 2012, 4:48PM

    Not going to get involved in the above conversation, but am going to say that this is very welcome news!

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