THE buzz about Llanelli’s rapid £60-million transformation has stung town centre managers from across Wales to come and have a look for themselves.
While most town centres are muffling against the cold bite of recession Llanelli is striding forth with great hopes and aspirations for the future.
Now like bees to a honeypot, 14 Welsh town centre managers, and possibly the chief executive of the Association of Town Centre Managers, Martin Blackwell, will be in Llanelli on September 14 to see for themselves just what is happening.
Llanelli town centre manager Andrew Shufflebotham said: “It is greatly encouraging the town managers want to experience the exciting things happening in Llanelli.
“I can’t wait to parade them round the showcase five developments that are attracting so much interest.
“We have waited a long time in Llanelli to realise our ambitions and now everything is slotting into place with everything coming to fruition over the next 12 months or so.”
The five major projects being developed will showcase a wide range of arts, entertainment, leisure and business opportunities.
They include the £25-million East Gate project being delivered by Britannia Construction. The first stage is unveiled on August 16th with the opening of the new bus interchange on the site of the former Island Place car park. That’s a month ahead of schedule.
By the autumn of 2012 the new bus interchange will be serving the delivery of the second phase which includes a new Odeon multiplex cinema which is itself expected to boost town centre footfall by more than 300,000 annually, a 53-bed hotel, 2,000sqm of office space, shops, pubs restaurants and a new 240 car park. It will all add up to a huge boost to the town’s day and night-time economic regeneration.
Other Showcase elements include a new theatre, arts and social enterprise complex called Y Ffwrnes costing £14.6million; the refurbishments of Llanelly House - £6million of Lottery heritage funding; Llanelli Library £3.5million and extensive new town centre improvements in Vaughan and Stepney Street’s including canopies and lighting which has attracted a Welsh Assembly grant of £7.5million.
President of Llanelli Chamber of Trade and Commerce and St Elli Shopping Centre manager, Andrew Stephens, said: “So many obstacles have been overcome to pave the way for this bright new Llanelli dawning that some never believed it would happen.
“Now the evidence is there with scaffolding clad buildings and swirling cranes breaking the skyline as the eastern end of Llanelli undergoes a complete new makeover.
“It is encouraging town centre managers are coming to have a look at the transformation for themselves and see that Llanelli is not only moving with the times but is stepping ahead of them.
East Gate, the town centre refurbishment and the complete Showcase five will be a real asset to all businesses, shoppers and town visitors.”
FULL METAL JACKET: Cocooned in scaffolding, Llanelly House, left and Llanelli Library, right, are together enjoying more than £18million pounds worth of makeovers.