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30/11/2015

Regenerated Cwmbran factory wins RTPI Wales planning award

Words: Laura Edgar

An ageing factory transformed into a worldwide centre of excellence for vehicle braking systems in south-east Wales has won the 2015 RTPI Cymru Wales Planning Awards.

Torfaen County Borough Council planners worked closely with the local workforce to use the planning system to trigger regeneration of the factory site. It has safeguarded 1,170 jobs, cleaned up contaminated land, and improved pedestrian links to the town centre and train station.

Because of the intervention of the planners, the Meritor factory owners decided to reinvest in manufacturing on site as their principal research and development centre. The company, recognised by the Welsh Government as an important anchor company, has since had strong orders for its products manufactured at the site.

The judges said the project was an “excellent example” of “proactive” problem-solving work by planners to tackle a “difficult and challenging” situation by engaging with site management and applicants to achieve a workable solution.

Roisin Willmott, director of RTPI Wales, said: “The regeneration of the Meritor factory site is an exceptional example of the positive impact planning can have on a community. Planners agreed an innovative and groundbreaking Section 106 Agreement with a £7.5 million bond to ensure the site was decontaminated but allowed the bond to be returned if the funding was used to reinvest in new automated production and R&D facilities. This agreement could be a model for other similar sites.”

The other finalists of awards were:

Highly Commended:

• Holyhead Townscape Transformation, submitted by the Isle of Anglesey County Council

• The Pump House, submitted by White Young Green (Cardiff office), The Vale of Glamorgan Council and DS Properties

Commended:

• Coppet Hall development, Pembrokeshire, submitted by Acanthus Holden

• Plas Penddeuglawdd, Rhyl, submitted by Denbighshire County Council

Excellence in Planning related survey and analysis

• Tree Cover in Wales’ Towns and Cities submitted by Natural Resources Wales

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