Regeneration project leaves a lasting legacy
Posted on Tuesday 14th July 2015
Pillgwenlly Regeneration Project in Newport has come to an end but leaves behind transformed buildings, improved public areas and some spectacular art work.
Over the last four years, around £6 million has been spent in the area thanks to a programme led by Newport City Council with financial backing form the Welsh Government's European Regional Development Fund and the Targeted Match Fund.
It has successfully achieved its objective to deliver regeneration in Pill through environmental improvements, a business grants scheme and the creation of a community resource centre.
Councillor John Richards, Newport City Council's Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Investment and Housing, said: "This was an ambitious project but was successfully delivered thanks to the collaboration between the council, Welsh Government and the private sector.
"Residents have been very much involved in community projects which ran during the life of the programme and I hope they are pleased with the results of the work that has been carried out.
"Even though this regeneration project has come to an end, we are continuing to find ways to help enhance the area and its environment for those who live and work in Pill.
"For instance, the derelict King's Arms public house was a real eyesore and a magnet for anti-social behaviour but it is now being demolished to make way for new homes thanks to the Vibrant and Viable Places programme and a partnership with the Seren Group."
"The Welsh Government-funded Vibrant and Viable Places (VVP) programme has also been used to refurbish the Pillgwenlly Millennium Centre to provide new training resources."
Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty, Lesley Griffiths, said: "I am pleased the Welsh Government has been able to support the regeneration of Pill with funding of £258,000. The works have breathed new life into the area, renovating key buildings, transforming public spaces and creating striking modern artwork which reflects the history of the community."
One of the first projects to be completed as part of the Pillgwenlly Regeneration Project was the redesign of Mariner's Green as part of the enhancement of the gateway between the city centre and Pill.
The re-landscaped area is now a fitting home for the Merchant Navy memorial and the VEVJ memorial which was relocated from Commercial Street.
A number of businesses used the business grants to carry out external renovations to their properties, giving them a revamp while retaining the look and feel of these traditional old buildings.
One of those who took advantage of this scheme was Asim Ali who moved his business to a property in Commercial Road after spending two years and a lot of his own money refurbishing it. He also received a grant from the regeneration project to give the façade a smart new look.
As well as being a pharmacist, Mr Ali is a sub-postmaster and the building is home to the local post office. The new shop has become the buzz of the local community offering two essential services under one roof and employing about 20 people.
"I have had a lot of support from the community over the years and I wanted to put something back," he explained.
He was also grateful for the assistance he received from Newport City Council's regeneration team. "The regeneration team were great and very professional. The shop fronts look amazing and have bought positivity and confidence to the Pill area"
Since opening his new premises, Pill Pharmacy has been named Independent Pharmacy Practice of the Year and a finalist for the business development award in the Welsh Pharmacy Awards.
Three new artworks were commissioned and are now in place. Artists Stephanie Roberts and Nick Jones worked on With Passing Ships, which was made with materials from local businesses and can be seen in Old Town Dock near Blaina Wharf.
Pill's project team has also worked with design company Living Data to develop a web app which tells people more about this art work and the history of Pill featuring oral history recordings made with local people.
A work by Martin Heron, on Commercial Road, at the end of Frederick Street, is made of multi-colour resin and includes benches and a sculptural tree.
It was created following a public consultation which found that, for local people, it was important that the piece reflected the history and heritage of the area. As a result the branches of the tree have steps with figures of people walking up, as a reminder of a bridge over the railway tracks that once stood at the location.
A third work, by Andrew Small, is a mixture of digital and industrial art and is situated at the gateway to Pill on a small piece of land on the corner of Commercial Road and George Street.