Festival Park redevelopment plans set to go before councillors
Elgan Hearn, local democracy reporter
Councillors will be advised to approve plans that could breathe new life into the redundant Festival Park site in Ebbw Vale.
Last summer, Birmingham based property developer, Mercia Real Estate (MRE) Ltd, who bought the park in 2021, lodged plans with the council to convert the park into a “mixed use business centre.”
The application will be decided by Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s Planning committee at a meeting on Thursday, January 12.
The main parts of the scheme would be to dismantle a number of the units and use that floor area for more yard space, parking, roads and paths.
Some of the units would be modified and the canopies would be removed.
The central mall walkway would be resurfaced to become a service or access road.
Change of use permission would also be needed for the shop units so that class A, B as well as D uses are accommodated at the site.
These cover retail, professional services, food and drink, offices and research, training and education, gyms and crèche facilities.
Planning officer, Helen Hinton said: “The details submitted specify the principle focus of the development will be to provide premises for businesses, trades, small storage and logistic operators.
“The alterations proposed would reduce the floor space by approximately 1,500 square metres, creating nine buildings accommodating 28 units which would vary in floor area from 89 to 744 square metres.
“No changes are proposed to the access points from the surrounding road network to the site or to any of the peripheral soft or green areas.”
Ms Hinton explained that councillors will decide the application as it deemed to be a “major development.”
Ms Hinton said: “In the context of fostering economic growth and employment opportunities, it is considered that the re-occupation of the site by a wider variety of uses has the potential to future proof the site and support and enhance the vitality and viability of the area.”
“The proposal will bring a currently vacant site back into active commercial use, helping to reduce pressure on green field sites, reduce urban sprawl and promote a more sustainable pattern of development.”
“The application is considered to the compliant with the relevant policies of and it is recommended that planning permission be granted.”
A number of conditions would be attached to the planning permission that the developers would need to stick to before work can start.
These include submitting a contaminated land survey and an explanation of how they would remove any asbestos found in buildings earmarked for demolition.
Blaenau Gwent planners will check and approve the work.
Garden festivals were the idea of Michael Heseltine during his time as environment minister in the 1980s Conservative government.
They were a supposed to be seen as a symbol of “re-birth” of derelict land in parts of the country which had seen the decline of heavy industry
The Festival Park site had once been home to steel and ironworks which had been demolished in the early 1980s.
The site later became a shopping park featuring more than 30 shops and restaurants, with a children’s play park and an owl sanctuary.
Ideas to regenerate the site have included turning it into a leisure and tourist destination, with mountain biking, zip wires, a cinema and hotel.
In 2020 the council had investigated buying the site outright themselves, but later abandoned the plan.
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