The council said there was huge tracts of derelict industrial land ripe for redevelopment at Port Talbot docks
Plans to redevelop large parts of Port Talbot town centre and its docks over the next 20 years have been unveiled.
Huge tracts of land will be marketed for housing, leisure, office space and light industry.
Work is set to start next year on a new dual carriageway taking traffic into the town centre and waterfront area.
The county council said redeveloping the railway station, finding a new use for the Plaza cinema and developing the gas works site were priorities.
It has drawn-up a regeneration masterplan similar to that it has already produced for Neath.
Neath Port Talbot council's head of regeneration Gareth Nutt said: "We are now in an economic downturn and it would be very easy to sit on our hands.
Redeveloping the train station is seen as a priority
"We are planning for the recovery and what we are trying to do is put plans and opportunities in place so when the recovery starts we are already at the starting line.
"It's a long-term proposition that we are looking at, 15 to 20 years."
The plans include enhancing the existing shopping precinct, improving pedestrian links between the town centre and waterfront and marketing sites for a range of uses.
Mr Nutt said work should start in 2010 on a new distributor road that would take traffic off the M4 and bring more people into the town centre and docklands.
Refurbishing the railway station would also be a priority - and the bus station may also be relocated there.
He said they would be looking at public and private funding and work with the Welsh Assembly Government which owned much of the dockland area.
Port Talbot has land allocated for around 2,000 homes up to 2016 and many could be included as part of the docks development.
A 12-week consultation process is being launched on Wednesday with the plans on show at Port Talbot civic centre.
The council has also create a special section on its website.
Council leader Councillor Derek Vaughan said: "This master plan takes a comprehensive look at the heart of Port Talbot and provides new opportunities for a whole range of major developments in the future.
"Port Talbot Docks is ripe for regeneration and the provision of homes, offices and light industry will provide a tremendous boost for the town.
"We have recognised for some time the need to revitalise retail in lower Station Road and again this plan provides the opportunities to examine this.
"It is not going to be achieved overnight but I am confident most, if not all, of these plans will come to fruition."