How we did it ... Energy park spearheads regeneration of Baglan

Project: A 70ha business park created on the site of a former chemical plant as part of the regeneration of Baglan Bay.

Background: In an area of declining industry and many job losses, this business park has helped to create jobs as many large companies, including GE Energy, have moved in.

Who is behind it? Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council, the Welsh Development Agency and BP, with the support of the Welsh Assembly Government and GE Energy.

Project aims: To lead the regeneration of the area and provide new business opportunities with strong green credentials in an area of economic decline.

Skills involved Strategic planning, decontamination expertise, marketing and understanding business requirements.

An area built on the foundations of heavy industry had fallen on very hard times and desperately needed a lifeline. Now Baglan Energy Park has acted as that lifeline for the Port Talbot area, creating 800 jobs so far with a total of 3,000 planned.

The business park is one of several initiatives that have helped to tackle the severe shortage of jobs in an area of south Wales suffering from a steady decline in traditional industries such as steel and coal.

A partnership comprising Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council, BP and the Welsh Development Agency began to look at possible uses for a former BP chemical site in 1996. The group had to deal with serious contamination issues before it was able to start building work. The £400 million of funding needed for the project came mostly from the private sector, with a five per cent public element provided by the Welsh Assembly Government.

"The partnership's aim was to develop the site to secure a cleaner, greener industrial future for the area," says Neath Port Talbot head of property and regeneration and chairman of the park's steering group Gareth Nutt.

"The intention was to differentiate it from other business parks, setting the highest standards of design and construction in line with the sustainability agenda and creating a benchmark for the 21st century. Baglan Energy Park is a development from a brownfield, industrial site into a modern, landscaped green business park."

A gas-fired power station built by GE Energy forms the centrepiece of the park, which lies close to the M4 east of Swansea. A £110 million distributor road will improve transport links. The list of companies that have moved into the business park includes Hi-Lex Cable System, Intertissue, Remploy, Montagne Jeunesse and Shield Medicare.

Mardon Ltd proposes to create 480 jobs, while Aston Hotels intends to construct a 70-bed hotel at the entrance to the park. Furthermore, young technology businesses will be offered start-up opportunities at the Technium sustainable development centre.

The park has put a heavy emphasis on sustainability, with special measures to protect rare plants and the ecology of the location. An area of sand dunes has been allocated to an environmental organisation. A gateway development at the park entrance achieved an excellent BREEAM rating.

The achievements at Baglan Energy Park so far have been recognised by the British Urban Regeneration Association, which presented the scheme with an award for excellence in regeneration last month. The judges said: "Baglan Energy Park is an example of first-class regeneration practice in action."

The park has helped to catalyse regeneration in the area, with spin-off schemes to develop the Aberavon seafront and Brunel Docks. Ambitious plans to transform a rundown area blighted by industrial decline are now coming to fruition. These promise to return Baglan Bay to its former prosperity.

Baglan Energy Park is set to be at the forefront of the area's efforts to recapture some of the industrial strength that it once enjoyed.

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