The Works - an ambitious £300 million project designed to transform and regenerate the former Ebbw Vale steelworks entered a new stage of development when planners officially approved the Masterplan.
It marks the start of a new chapter in a project that is unique in terms of its scale, ambition, and the speed with which it has been implemented to date.
It is thought to be the only heavy industrial site of this size that has been brought forward for development in such a short timescale.
It is anticipated it will take ten years to fully develop The Works and when fully operational around 2000 people will be employed on the site.
It has taken just five years from the closure of the steelworks to reach the planning stage – within that period the extensive buildings on the 185 acre site have been demolished, the site has been acquired by Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council and the Welsh Assembly Government, a complex reclamation programme is in progress and the Masterplan has been drawn up and approved.
Ieuan Wyn Jones, Minister for the Economy and Transport, said the development of The Works was one of the key strategic projects in the wider Heads of the Valleys regeneration programme and would have a profound impact on revitalising the region.
“The speed with which the site is being brought to market is commendable and an outstanding example of public and private sector organisations working together to bring new life to Ebbw Vale and regenerate a community.
“The Works has been designed to revitalise and regenerate this area of the Heads of the Valleys and will be a catalyst for change, creating social and environmental benefits as well as employment opportunities and new facilities for future generations.
”It will be an exemplar project embracing sustainable development principles and best practice in environmental planning and implementation and will significantly improve the quality of life for the local communities and attract new investment.”
Cllr John Hopkins, Chair of the steelworks project partnership and Leader of Blaenau Gwent Council, said: “The approval of the planning application for The Works opens the door to the development becoming a reality.
“Investors and funding bodies will be able to look with confidence on the project, and we will be able to continue to drive forward the regeneration of Blaenau Gwent and the Heads of the Valleys region at the same urgent pace, and with the same far-reaching ambition that has characterised the work so far.”
The project is at the cutting edge of delivering the Assembly’s sustainable development agenda with the work being developed to an overarching framework of social, economic and environmental objectives.
These include ambitious energy targets, social clauses contract and significant biodiversity benefits.
The work now continues at a pace with the first phase of land earmarked for residential development going on the market in the autumn.
This will be supported by a developer’s day when potential developers, investors and agents from around the UK will be invited to Ebbw Vale to learn about the available investment opportunities at The Works.
Savills have been appointed as development consultants and marketing agents for the redevelopment of the site and a suite of new marketing materials has been developed including computer generated images of the site and a ‘fly by’ of how the site may look.
Work on the creation of the new Central Valley - which follows the River Ebbw - begins in earnest this autumn with the creation of ponds, wetlands, flower rich grasslands and woodlands. It will include over 4km of paths and cycle ways, timber bridges, dry stone walling and earth hedgebanks.
Plans for a new environmental education centre are also being finalised to provide outdoor teaching areas and learning opportunities alongside the Central Valley.*
The Masterplan is the blue print for the future development of The Works and designed to create a thriving new sustainable community that will be a driver for economic development as well as the wider regeneration of the Heads of the Valleys region.
Blaenau Gwent’s planning committee gave outline planning consent for:
- 60,413 sq m employment use – business, office and R&D
- 720 new homes
- 107 bed new Ysbyty Aneurin Bevan Hospital
- 14,000 sq m Learning campus
- 12,500 sq m mixed use development to include food, drink, leisure, office, day centre and retail up to max. 1,000 sq ft
- Leisure centre
- Sports pitches
- Primary school
- Wetland park education and training facilities
- Railway terminus
- Environmental resource centre.
The planning application included car parking, public transport facilities and highway infrastructure and improvements. These include a new public bridge and town centre link, associated landscaping and public squares as well as associated engineering earthworks to facilitate the development.
There is also an Energy Strategy for The Works which will look to maximise energy efficiency opportunities and develop renewable energy to reduce carbon emissions produced by the development.