ANOTHER £1.2 million is needed to complete the design phase of a masterplan on a former Talywain ironworks site.

Torfaen County Borough Council was given approval to purchase The British site in 2016, and a masterplan followed in 2018. The masterplan included hiking trails, future residential developments, forest zones and a destination hub.

But progress on the plans has been slow, with soaring costs in Phase one of the plan. This includes putting in a permanent pond, connected to other water streams and remedying “urgent hazards” –  91 mining shafts and 70 passages.

This initial phase originally benefitted from £3.7 million of funding – £2 million from the council’s capital programme and £1.7 million from the Welsh Government’s vibrant and viable places fund.

But rising costs led to officers asking the Welsh Government’s enabling natural resources and wellbeing fund for a further £2.98 million to complete phase one – a decision on this is still pending due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Now, a year on from that request, the council finds itself more than £1.2 million short of what is needed to complete the design work. It isn’t known how much the full development would cost after this stage is completed but there have been concerns from residents over the increasing costs.

Local resident, Wayne Tomlinson, said in a social media post that he believed this was the “wrong road” for the council to take.

He said: “I do believe that the council has taken control of a site which is riddled with many risks and uncertainties and one which will run into millions of financial liabilities.

“To achieve the projects outlined in the report this proposal from start to finish is risky both in cost, safety and uncertainties.

“I honesty believe this is the wrong road being taken by council and one they are now unfortunately stuck with.

“The future for the British under these proposals do not add up and sadly for the British, the present and future aspirations for the site seem disappointing for the whole community.”

On top of funding issues, the council has the added problem that the Welsh Government funding that they are waiting for approval on, requires planning permission before it can be claimed.

However, planning permission cannot be sought until the phase one design and investigations have been completed.

A council report on the issue says: “It is currently estimated that should work commence in June 2021 with planning approval obtained in quarter one of 2022.”

In total the phase one element is expected to cost £7.9 million. So far £1 million has been spent with the estimated remaining costs being £6.9 million.

In the council’s cabinet meeting, Cllr David Daniels said: “It was hard to believe it was only a few years ago it was passing from private owner to private owner with no investment in the site.

“It’s got tremendous opportunities for locals and the borough as a whole.

“It’s got tremendous potential for the local economy.”

A full report will be presented to the council in June requesting the necessary £1.2 million to complete phase one of the project.