Houses to be demolished as Neath town centre redevelopment starts at last
THE demolition of houses will signal the start of Neath's long-awaited town centre redevelopment.
The demolition will pave the way for the £13 million opening phase of the town's makeover which is expected to get under way in the summer.
Later this week councillors will be asked to give their blessing to four empty, authority-owned homes next to Neath Magistrates Court being razed.
Head of regeneration Gareth Nutt said progress on the redevelopment had been hit by unprecedented economic conditions.
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But, he added, the council and its preferred developer, Simons, had worked behind the scenes to ensure the scheme continued to be developed.
They would then be in a position to move forward with the plans as soon as the opportunity arose.
"We are now proposing to make a start on phase one, involving the construction of a new car park and speculative retail space alongside it," said Mr Nutt. "Further phases, when conditions allowed, would see the development of extra retail space and some mixed-use opportunities.
"In order to progress matters, it is now proposed to demolish the houses in council ownership adjacent to the magistrates court in Water Street as soon as possible, with a view to preparing detailed designs and the construction of the car park starting in late summer this year."
Around 20,000sq ft of retail space, involving one large or two smaller stores, will form this first stage, along with a five-deck car park, on the site of the existing temporary car park behind the civic centre.
Mr Nutt said discussions were ongoing with several high street names to come on board.
Council leader Ali Thomas added: "This is further evidence of the council's continued efforts to bring forward the retail scheme in Neath in difficult economic conditions.
"I hope this first step will be the catalyst to the successful development of the entire scheme in the near future, as confidence in the market returns.
"This commitment will send out a clear signal to help make this happen."
A report will go before the economic and community regeneration scrutiny committee and cabinet board on Friday.