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 Friday, 10 January, 2003, 10:28 GMT
Urban village plan for refinery site
Computer image of Llandarcy development
Computer image of Llandarcy development
An ambitious scheme to transform a former south Wales oil refinery into an urban village backed by the Prince of Wales has been launched.

The project to reclaim the land that lay beneath the former smokestacks of Llandarcy, near Neath claims to be the most ambitious redevelopment of its kind in Europe.

The Llandarcy Urban Village Project was formally launched by the Welsh Assembly Government's Economic Development Minister, Andrew Davies.

It is expected to create at least 2,500 homes and 3,500 jobs over a 25-year period.

Houses at Poundbury, Dorchester
Houses at Poundbury, Dorchester

Welsh Secretary Peter Hain, who is the MP for Neath, said: "This is a fantastic project which shows that Wales is thinking big.

"I am sure its success will spur other communities throughout Wales to follow this outstanding lead."

It is supported by Prince's Foundation - which has built a much smaller urban village at Poundbury near Dorchester.

Other organisations supporting the project are the Welsh Development Agency, BP and Neath Port Talbot Council.

Friday's official launch included a video message from Prince Charles wishing the project success.

The towers of the Llandarcy oil refinery were demolished five years ago.In its time the 1922 industrial site made history - as Britain's first crude oil refinery.

The first phase of the Llandarcy project is expected to be built this year.

The project will draw on the model of the Prince's Foundation village in Poundbury.

Construction there began in 1994 and four years later, more than 100 homes were built.

The majority were privately-owned and the rest offered to people on local authority housing lists by the Guinness Housing Trust.

There is truly high quality craftsmanship and architecture which relates well to the surrounding area

Matthew Line, Prince's Foundation
Matthew Line from the Prince's Foundation said: "I think we can see here [at Llandarcy] the opportunity for immense growth and for putting together the vision for an urban village which is a truly integrated, sustainable development that will embrace the whole community.

"It's very much people focused. There will be a mix of use: there will be office, residential and retail space, integrated so there is less reliance on public transport and particularly cars.

"There is a mix of tenure. There is truly high quality craftsmanship and architecture which relates well to the surrounding area."

BP spokesman David Stevens said Llandarcy was a "special place" for BP.

Principles

"Now that refining operations are finished, we want to put this siteback into good use and make sure it keeps contributing to the local community and the local economy for many years to come.

"We are contributing the land, investing money in the development and encouraging the Prince's Foundation, the WDA and the local authority to take this scheme forward," he told BBC Radio Wales.

The village was the first example of the principles put forward by Prince Charles in his 1989 book A Vision of Britain.

The foundation has also recently lent support to a new project: to turn a former railway goods yard into a multi-million pound urban village .

The blend of housing, shops, businesses and public spaces - including a village green - is planned for a 10-acre site in the heart of St Austell, in Cornwall.

But it is the size and scope of the Welsh project that makes Llandarcy a landmark in regeneration.

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  ON THIS STORY
  BBC Wales' Phil Nutting
"There are plans to bring life back to this area."

More from south west Wales
See also:

27 Nov 02 | England
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