Page last updated at 12:38 GMT, Thursday, 27 November 2008

'Iconic' museum planned for town

Graphic of planned museum
Developers say the 'iconic' building will be instantly identifiable with Neath

An "iconic" golden rugby ball-shaped museum, library and heritage centre has been unveiled as the centrepiece of an 80m development in Neath town centre.

It also includes shops, a multi storey car park, two new public squares, cafe and restaurant quarter and housing.

Businesses and residents are now being asked for their views on the scheme.

Developer Simons said it planned to start construction in 12 to 18 months when it said the economic climate would start to improve from the downturn.

The company has signed a development agreement with Neath Port Talbot Council for the site which includes land where the old civic centre stood.

The current 1960s multi-storey car park and Tesco building will also be demolished.

But Simons said it would retain the facades of the Victorian and Edwardian buildings in Wind Street and develop behind them.

Where to find development plans
The layout of the planned development
Neath Civic Centre
DOVE Workshop, Banwen
Glynneath Training Centre
Pontardawe One Stop Shop, Holly Street
Feedback deadline 19 January

The company is currently redeveloping town centre sites in Carmarthen, Wakefield near Leeds and Witney in Oxfordshire.

Developments director Mark Newton said: "These are challenging times but we see it as an opportunity.

"Lots of developers and local authorities are shelving their schemes or putting them on ice but we think the clever money is on getting schemes ready for when we come out of the economic downturn.

"The scheme won't happen overnight but we are confident we can make a step change for the town centre."

The company said in towns and cities across Europe new iconic architecture was being used to lead regeneration.

It said the museum building would be 'iconic' and instantly identifiable with Neath.

As part of the public consultation the company has launched a website to encourage feedback.

The plans will also go on show at venues throughout the area.

Council leader Derek Vaughan said: "I am really excited about these plans which will provide a tremendous boost to the town whilst retaining its unique historic character.

"We want to know what the public and local businesses think about the proposals - no final decision will be made until we've gathered everyone's views."

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