The Houses of Parliament in London
The Houses of Parliament in London Credit: Cwmbran Life

WORK on spending £20 million to regenerate Cwmbran is set to formally get underway next month. 

The cash, over 10 years, was awarded under the UK Government’s long term plan for towns fund, in a “surprise” announcement in October last year. 

Since then Torfaen Borough Council officers have been working to put in place a town board, that must be led by businesses and community representatives who will make up the majority of its 18 members, which will be responsible for developing the long-term plan and working with local people. 

The board had to be established by April 1 and Louise Jones-Williams, the director of the Llantarnam Grange arts centre, has accepted the council’s invitation to chair it. 

Bethan McPherson, the council’s head of communities, said it is intended to ratify the board and its processes at its inaugural meeting on May 1. 

Labour councillor Joanna Guaden, the cabinet member for regeneration, said: “We’ve come a long way since this surprise announcement before Christmas.” 

The Croesyceiliog councillor said there would also be an opportunity for councillors to get involved in working groups established by the board. 

The borough council will remain the accountable body for the funding and putting the plans into action after councillors agreed to establishing the board at their April 23 meeting. 

It is intended the £20m funding, which will be available across the 10 year period, is used to support projects which will be identified in the plan around the three key themes of ‘safety and security, high streets, heritage and regeneration’ and ‘transport and connectivity’. 

Of the funding 75 per cent will be available for capital projects – such as building, or refurbishment works or new projects – and 25 per cent to support revenue costs. 

The boundary of the area, defined as Cwmbran centre and surrounding areas, has been drawn up by the UK Government based on statistics related to deprivation and Ms McPherson said the boundary has been tweaked to include areas of open, green space that could be used to support projects around anti-social behavior and active travel. 

Pontnewydd Labour member Stuart Ashley said he welcomed the funding but asked if the intention is to use it to try and attract other grants. 

“Will it be used to leaver other money in? £20 million sounds a lot but in the wider context of safety and security and transport it won’t go very far.” 

Ms McPherson said there isn’t any expectation around match funding but that where it could be used to bring in other funding its expected that is what the board should do and much of its work will be guided by plans the council has already put in place and gathered evidence for. 

In response to a question from Upper Cwmbran Labour member Lucy Williams Ms McPherson acknowledged the “very tight timeline” to submit the board’s long term plan to the UK Government by August 1 is a risk. 

Torfaen Labour Nick Thomas-Symonds, and a Gwent Police representative are required, by the UK Government, to sit on the board while the council has also asked Torfaen Senedd member Lynne Neagle and Tegan Davies, the area’s youth parliament member, to join.

Cwmbran Shopping Centre, the Torfaen Volunteer Alliance, Coleg Gwent and business groups will also be represented along with representatives from the area’s community councils.