Work begins on £100m Welsh automotive business park
The first phase of work has begun on a new £100m business park in Ebbw Vale, which could potentially house up to 1,500 staff.
Work on the 50,000 sq ft building has begun following funding confirmation from Economy Secretary Ken Skates.
The Automotive Technology Park will eventually be extended to 200,000 sq ft. and is located on land owned by the Welsh Government at Rhyd y Blew in Ebbw Vale.
The move comes following a cabinet decision in June not to back the proposed £425m Circuit of Wales motor circuit project on 830 acres of land near the site.
Heads of the Valleys Development Company, the company behind the circuit, had planned a second phase of development incorporating a one million sq ft technology park on a plot adjacent to the track.
The deal was unsuccessful following concerns from the Welsh Government around providing underwriting support for the project.
This would have amounted to around £210m of the cost of what would have been a privately funded circuit.
It was believed this would pose too much risk to the taxpayers.
The Welsh Government’s new park is one of six strategic hubs that were identified in the ministerial taskforce for the South Wales Valleys’ action plan, Our Valleys, Our Future, in July.
“I am keen to progress our plans for a £100m technology park as quickly as possible in order to secure high-quality jobs and investment in Ebbw Vale and stimulate economic growth across the Heads of the Valleys,” said Skates.
“I am pleased to announce that I have approved the necessary funding for the design and construction of a 50,000 sq ft industrial space in Rhyd Y Blew in Ebbw Vale to kick start that process.
“Since I announced the Welsh Government’s plans to establish the technology park, we have had a significant number of enquiries from automotive companies looking to move to Ebbw Vale, and I am confident that the development of this new facility will help us to start to meet demand in the market.
“There is no doubt we are at a pivotal time for the automotive industry.
“I want the new technology park to become renowned as a centre for the development and application of next generation technologies for intelligent transportation.
"We need to retain our focus on the here and the now, which also means focusing on jobs on the ground and the petrol engines that will be with us for some time to come, but it needs to build in a way that can capitalise on rapid changes happening in the automotive industry.
“The park and our investment needs to be future-proofed to develop and take advantage of the cleaner technologies of the future.
“We need to be clever and collaborative in order to make the technology park a success which means leveraging in funding from both private and public sectors, working constructively with our partners and investing in local skills.”
Ebbw Vale Enterprise Zone chairman Mark Langshaw said: “We are pleased to welcome the Economy Secretary to Ebbw Vale again to discuss plans for the £100m technology park.
“It is good see that work is progressing and that the Welsh Government has committed to the construction of a 50,000 sq foot industrial building in Rhyd y Blew.
“We look forward to working with Welsh Government on this project to ensure that it delivers for the people of Blaenau Gwent and beyond.”
The new building’s budget was not disclosed so as not to influence the tender process which will award the contract to design and built it.