COUNCILLORS and traders have called the £8.2 million Welsh Government funding to create a ‘21st Century Pontypool’, a “chance to create a legacy that will benefit residents, businesses and visitors for many years to come.”
Torfaen council secured the funding last week it was announced, as part of an £80 million bid to progress a “hugely significant regeneration project”, creating an estimated 1,709 jobs and 285 new or improved homes.
It is also thought investment levered from the restoration would be in the region of £126 million.
Councillors are due to meet with government officials in the next fortnight to discuss how to spend the money – part of the Vibrant and Viable Places Programme – but it is anticipated that the priority will be the restoration of the Monmouth and Brecon Canal, and further rejuvenation of Pontypool town centre.
Pontypool town trader and community councillor and Gaynor James said it could “revitalise the area”.
“It would draw more people to live and work in the town,” she said. “That is what we want.”
The vibrant places programme seeks to improve ‘failing town centres’, provide new houses and create jobs in Communities First areas.
Councillor Bob Wellington, leader of Torfaen council, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to receive this funding. It represents a significant regeneration opportunity for Torfaen and the chance to create a legacy that will benefit residents, businesses and visitors for many years to come.”
Torfaen council submitted its bid for funding on the basis of creating a ‘21st Century Pontypool’, with the bulk of additional funding will come from private and third sector contributions.
A report at full council before Christmas said the plans would include a residential-led ‘Canalside Quarter’ near Cwmbran town centre, and a new transport interchange at Pontypool and New Inn train station.
It said: “The focus is on linking people to employment opportunities provided through improved transport and digital infrastructure, training and the delivery of key housing and mixed use development.”
Cabinet vice-chairman Councillor Lewis Jones said: “This would fly in the face of a national trend whereby town centres are slowly dying. It would be a huge boost for Torfaen.”
Carl Sargeant, government minister for regeneration, said: “This is a significant Welsh government announcement, working with our partners in local government and the private sector.”