A blueprint to shape the future of Neath town centre and surrounding areas has been announced today.
Ambitious plans for a major regeneration of 1000 acres in and around Neath town centre were unveiled by Council Leader Derek Vaughan.
Following the announcement of the 80 million pounds shopping development on the site of the old Neath town centre, more projects are in the pipeline to ensure Neath remains a vibrant town centre for shoppers and visitors.
The regeneration of Milland Road is the next scheme to get the go ahead. A study of the area has been carried out to look at ways of regenerating the site which stretches from the Milland Road Car Park to Bridge Street and from the River Neath to the main railway line.
Carried out by consultants Knight Frank, the study was funded by a 64,000 Welsh Assembly grant. Proposals are now being put forward for the future of the site which will go out for public consultation in early Spring.
This is a key area of Neath which is in need of a major overhaul and the canal which passes through the site is considered a major component of future plans.
All businesses, residents and interested parties will be invited to come along to look at the proposals and give their views. A display of the plans showing outline ideas will also be put up at Neath civic centre but will be subject to change as a result of consultation.
The site does not include Milland Road Industrial Estate and initial ideas include residential, factory and leisure developments.
The council is also paving the way for a third renewal area to be declared in the Neath area.
Following the success of renewal areas in Sandfields East/Aberavon in Port Talbot and the Upper Amman Valley, an area that takes in Neath East and parts of Neath town centre is being looked at with the aim of identifying a study area. From this, a boundary will be set and a renewal area declared.
Renewal areas have proved to be extremely successful in Neath Port Talbot, pulling in 8.3 million in investment to tackle problems of deprivation and community regeneration.
Surveys, consultation and public meetings are held to identify issues of concern to the community.
Several areas across the county borough were looked at in detail but Neath East emerges at the most needy in terms of housing regeneration, the environment, demand for homes and community facilities.
Facts on the study area: " 3663 homes of which 563 are council owned (15%) " The study area encompasses Melincryddan, Penrhiwtyn, Pencaerau and parts of the town centre " Population of 5933 " Mostly terraced streets/traditionally built/ need maintenance " Demand for housing in the area is high " High levels of privately rented properties " Element of anti social behaviour present " Considerable investment potential and opportunities linked to the town centre redevelopment and former industrial sites alongside A474
Negotiations are ongoing with Network Rail for the refurbishment of the station forecourt and bus station and many environmental schemes are already underway in the town centre.
Demolition work is due to start on the old Neath civic centre in April to make way for the new shopping development which includes a public area and a state of the art heritage centre to house a museum and public library.
Councillor Vaughan has reiterated his commitment to rebuilding the Gwyn Hall saying he hopes to make a further announcement on future plans next week.
"These are exciting times for the future of Neath, for the council, for businesses, traders, residents and visitors. So far around 100 million has been invested.
"Neath town centre is a popular, historic market town and these developments will make it more attractive than ever.
"This major regeneration scheme will bring huge benefits for the people of Neath. It will secure the future of Neath as a number one shopping venue for years to come."