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Last Updated: Friday, 19 September, 2003, 12:47 GMT 13:47 UK
Fury over Dunlop factory site
demolition started
Locals tried to stop the building being demolished
Two years after a world-famous south Wales landmark was bulldozed, campaigners are furious that a proposed 30m development has not materialised.

Completed in 1953, the Dunlop Semtex factory in Brynmawr, which is said to have inspired the Sydney Opera House, was the first building to receive listed status after World War II.

It was knocked down in 2001 to make way for a 35m housing, business and shopping development creating 200 jobs.

But two weeks after its demolition, contractors Brunswick Construction went bust, and the site now lies derelict except for around 30 new houses.

Campaigner Jeanne Fry-Thomas said it was a "ridiculous situation".

"We had a world-famous building here that could have been renovated for somewhere in the region of 3m," she said.

"But the Welsh Development Agency gave over 6m to knock it down, clear the site and put the infrastructure in."

She said that the protesters who had fought to keep the domes had never tried to block the development.

Dunlop Semtex factory
The factory was widely-praised by architects across the globe

"We need something here - to justify the cost, we need to have the site developed."

The plight of the project was recently highlighted in BBC Two's Restoration series.

On the programme, Richard Parnaby chairman of Design Commission for Wales, said the site had gone backwards.

"They have a flat site - before they had a wonderful building - for 6m you could have done something pretty useful inside that building," he said.

John Hopkins, leader of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council, told the programme the building was actually on the site, but had been ground to dust.

"If people want to visit, it is still here," he said.

The Welsh Development Agency has said it understood talks were currently underway with several retailers.

Dunlop Semtex factory
The nine domes housed the main production area

It is confident the site will eventually create almost 500 jobs.

It is believed an announcement could be made shortly.

The factory was the brainchild of Lord Forrester who wanted to bring large-scale post-war work to the south Wales Valleys, which had suffered during the Depression in the 1930s.

The building was designed to create a new way of working and reduce differences between managers and workers.

Top architects including Frank Lloyd Wright and Paul Zara, director of architecture for Sir Terence Conran praised the building, which boasted nine domes covering the central production area.

In a bid to stop its demolition, local people held nightly vigils, appealed to politicians and organised a petition, but all to no avail.

BBC Wales' Melanie Doel
"The community was promised a 30m redevelopment"



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