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Plans to redevelop former British Nylon Spinners factory site at Mamhilad Park take step forward

PLANS to redevelop what was one of the largest factories in Gwent as a new village have taken a step forward. 

Torfaen councillors granted planning permission for the redevelopment of the former British Nylon Spinners factory site at Mamhilad Park, near Pontypool, in May this year. 

An agreement has now been reached between the council and neighbouring Monmouthshire County Council, which will lend its expertise in overseeing the redevelopment of the historic building. The Grade II-listed factory was designed by Welsh architect Percy Thomas and built from 1945-48. It was officially opened by the Duchess of Kent in June 1949. For a period it was the sole source of all British-produced yarn of the revolutionary new fabric that had been developed in America in the 1930s.  

Around 40 per cent of the listed former factory building will be demolished, which will mostly be modern additions, though some 17 per cent of the original building could also be dismantled which applicants, Johnsey Estates, will have to justify. 

Monmouthshire council heritage manager Amy Longford and a planning officer will now be available to offer written and verbal advice to colleagues in Torfaen on listed building applications on the site.  They will also be able to make recommendations and approve some applications. 

Under the plans approved in May up to 900 homes could be built on the site, which is currently home to a number of firms and some NHS organisations, while some buildings would also be redeveloped. Old machinery from the former nylon factory will also be taken out and a lift added to improve the chances of more space being let to employers.   

All buildings on what had been known as the Parke Davis site, to the south, will be demolished, but a re-vegetated mound in the centre of those buildings will be retained as parkland. 

The Monmouthshire officers have the power to consider listed building applications that would normally have to be referred to the Welsh Government’s historic buildings body Cadw, under an agreement dating back to 2018.  The authority had also provided its advice to Torfaen through the planning application for the redevelopment of Mamhilad Park, with both councils having previously had an agreement to work together. 

Those arrangements lapsed as neither authority wanted to enter a longer-term partnership, but the memorandum of understanding now approved is only related to the Mamhilad Park site and won’t require additional staff which the former arrangement did.  

Monmouthshire has said it can manage the workload for the “limited demand” from its existing staff and Torfaen Borough Council will have to pay it £100 an hour for Ms Longford’s time and £60 an hour for a heritage officer, with the deal to last two years. 

Torfaen will have to provide “reasonable timescales” for the Monmouthshire officers to respond to the work it expects them to do and the agreement also stipulates it isn’t to make “unrealistic demands on Monmouthshire’s heritage services”. 

Monmouthshire has said it will benefit as it will receive an additional income for work that is expected to be around 10 hours a month, though the workload could vary. It can also decline to provide officer time, should the service demands become “excessive”. 

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Plans to redevelop former British Nylon Spinners factory site at Mamhilad Park take step forward

an office block
A view of Mamhilad House. Picture: PR supplied