Thumbs up for plan to save The British industrial ruin – backed by European cash
Saul Cooke-Black, local democracy reporter
Plans for the first phase of a project to regenerate The British, a former ironworks site in Talywain, have been given the thumbs-up by local residents.
The overall masterplan includes plans to create a heritage trail and cafe on the 1,300-acre site – the largest remaining site of industrial dereliction in the south east of Wales.
It has received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.
Around 30 people visited the site known as The British on Thursday to meet the project team, who talked them through the plans for the first phase.
And there was unanimous support among those who attended. Bob Rogers, from Talywain, said: “This area is very close to my heart and I walk on The British everyday with my dog. I think this is an excellent first start.”
Bethan Whelan, from Aberyschan, said: “I like the plans – I think it’s important the development is in keeping with the natural beauty of the area and it’s industrial heritage.”
Aberscychan councillor Lynda Clarkson, who sits on The British Liasion Committee and Friends of the British group, added: “It’s been a long time coming and I think people are relieved work is starting.
“I’ve been contacted by a lot of people who couldn’t come today but who wanted more information, so there is a lot of interest in the project.”
The work, which is due to start in a few weeks, will focus on improving the safety on part of the site by treating former mine workings, and reducing the risk of flooding by creating a new watercourse and pond.
This phase is essential to improve the safety of the site and is the first piece in The British masterpiece jigsaw, which was approved by Torfaen councillors in November 2018 and aims to regenerate the area.
Cllr Joanne Gauden, Torfaen council’s executive member for economy, skills and regeneration, said: “It was great that people came to meet the team and find out more about this first crucial phase, especially given the weather.
“People asked questions about where the work will be taking place and where the new pond is likely to be sited.
“I was very pleased to see so many younger residents coming along and taking an interest.”
This first phase is due to be completed in March 2023.