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£9.3 million regeneration scheme hit by rising costs

16 May 2024 3 minute read
This is how the Glantorvaen multi-storey car park could look with a new steel mesh frame. Picture: Percy Thomas Architects/Torfaen County Borough Council

Twm Owen, local democracy reporter

A regeneration scheme worth £9.3 million is being scaled back due to rising construction costs.

The UK Government announced it was awarding £7.6m in Levelling Up funding towards the scheme in Pontypool.

The project included plans were to convert a toilet block into a new restaurant, refurbish a derelict church as a cultural hub and revamp an existing multi-storey car park.

Torfaen Borough Council, which is behind the project, has said it is intended to attract visitors from Pontypool Park into the town centre and stimulate a nighttime economy.

Redrawn

Plans for the car park and toilet conversion have already been approved, by the council’s planning committee, but will now be redrawn.

The council said the proposals it has submitted for the restoration of the listed St James’ Church remain unchanged

It said it has had to draw up updated plans to minimise rising building costs.

Last year, just two months after the funding under the flagship scheme to replace cash previously supplied by the European Union was announced, the council said work on one a number of design stages had exceeded its £150,000 budget.

Rising inflation impacting on the construction sector since the 2020 pandemic have been a constant concern to the council and previously forced it to rethink the design of a new school in Cwmbran.

Councillor Joanne Gauden, the Labour-run council’s cabinet member for regeneration, said the scheme is still expected to be completed by September 2025.

Over budget

She said: “Increasing building costs have pushed the cost of the original designs over budget. But the new designs retain the features included in the first proposals, such as an exciting new park-side cafe to attract more visitors to the town centre, new accessible toilets and disabled parking facilities.

“The Pontypool Cultural Hub and Café Quarter project is still on course to be completed by September 2025 and will create a range of new jobs.”

The toilet block in Pontypool

The new designs – which will be submitted for planning approval this week – will see more of the toilet’s original 1950s building retained. The council says plans for the exterior of the car park “have been simplified” and the number of electric vehicle charging spaces reduced from 10 to four.

The new plans still include what the council calls key features of the projects, including a café and a kiosk to attract visitors to Pontypool Park into the town centre, two new accessible public toilets on Hanbury Road; as well as a new car park lift, new disabled parking spaces and accessible toilets in the car park.

Work is expected to begin on all three projects in September and steps to improve security at St James’ Church has already started.


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