£8.2m kick-start for Torfaen revamp

Free Press Series: Plans includes a  £13.63million project to extend the canal from Pontymoile Basin to Cwmbran town centre and to build a new visitor hub Plans includes a £13.63million project to extend the canal from Pontymoile Basin to Cwmbran town centre and to build a new visitor hub

MILLIONS of pounds destined for Torfaen to help regenerate the area will “make a real difference” to people living there, a meeting heard.

Torfaen council will work with the Welsh Government to “re-scope” ambitious regeneration plans for the borough – including a £52.8million canal project.

The decision was agreed by the council’s cabinet after on a report informing informed them of an £8.2million grant in funding from the government’s Vibrant and Viable Places Programme.

The grant funding is intended to deliver a package of regeneration projects in Pontypool and Cwmbran, housing minister Carl Sargeant said last week, and the grant was hailed as a success during the meeting. But it was also said to have fallen nearly £5million short of the £13million the local authority bid for.

Neighbourhood services officer Christina Harrhy said in response to concerns from cabinet members over the shortfall: “The funding offers us an opportunity to put in place a programme of regeneration projects which will make a real difference to the citizens of Torfaen.

“We do need to re-scope the project, but we will look to do everything in our power to avoid reducing the project. We believe this is the right plan for Torfaen.”

The original plan submitted to the Welsh Government included £52.8million to create a Canalside Quarter on the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal – to create housing, commercial and cultural facilities.

A further £13.63 m project to extend the canal from Pontymoile Basin to Cwmbran town centre was also included, as was a £2.8m refurbishment of Hypervalue in Pontypool to create living and commercial space., to create living space on the upper floors and commercial space on the ground floor, possibly for people practicing creative industries.

A £1.5m transformation of St James’s Church in Pontypool to create a multi-functional community space to be run by a social enterprise was also prioritised, along with £255,000 £255k to provide broadband access within Pontypool town centre to support visitors and community hubs.

The cabinet were informed that officers had already identified alternative delivery of projects should funding not be secured.

Officers will meet with the Welsh Government within the next week. Further cabinet approval will then be required.

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