Tech Valleys: Concerns raised over funding to deliver major project
Elgan Hearn, local democracy reporter
Concerns have been raised around whether the funding needed to deliver a major project in Ebbw Vale is in place.
At a meeting of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s budget monitoring committee on Monday, March 7, the viability of a project to build business units at Lime Avenue was brought up for discussion.
Only last week, a planning application by CRT property investments, to create 4,065 square metres of space in five buildings on land off the southern end of Lime Avenue was approved by the council’s planning committee.
The issue was brought up for discussion during an item which monitors the financial position of the council’s building programme.
The report for the position at the end of December shows that the Lime Avenue Business Park has cost £185,000 more than expected.
According to the report this is due to “unforeseen issues” with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Cllr Jonathan Millard asked whether the losses covered the existing units at the site or the new proposals.
Head of regeneration Ellie Fry said that the council was not involved in the new proposal but had dealt with the planning application.
Cllr Millard said: “Who is funding that building as we want to make sure that it’s going ahead?”
Ms Fry said: “I believe it’s the applicant and Welsh Government who are funding that, they have five years to build it.”
Cllr Phil Edwards said: “There are rumours that Tech Valley have pulled their funding out of this, is that correct?”
Ms Fry said that Tech Valley would not fund the new application at Lime Avenue as it is for bigger business units, not start-up units.
‘Up to the applicant’
Ms Fry said: “It’s up to the applicant to speak to the Welsh Government as to what funding they could get for it.
“There’s funding for development out there, maybe the applicant needs to speak to a different part of Welsh Government, that’s all.
“I know that next year’s Welsh Government funding will be difficult, but I’ve not heard anything or specific figures for Tech Valleys.”
Cllr Morgan said: “Rumours are out there and how many other projects could be affected by loss of money.”
Cllr Morgan pointed out that the portfolio holder for regeneration and economic development, Cllr Dai Davies, and the Blaenau Gwent director for environment and regeneration, Richard Crook, both sit on the Tech Valleys board.
“They are bound to have some information and we need to know as a matter of urgency,” said Cllr Morgan.
Committee chairman, Cllr Stewart Healy said that speak to Cllr Davies on the matter.
Over ten years Tech Valleys is expected to create at least 1,500 jobs, predominantly in new technologies and advanced manufacturing with Ebbw Vale at the heart of this.
By 2027 it is expected that the Welsh Government will have pumped in £100 million into the scheme.
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