Home » First phase of £200m-plus Pentre Awel project in Llanelli completed
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First phase of £200m-plus Pentre Awel project in Llanelli completed

Part of zone one of Pentre Awel, Llanelli (Pic: Richard Youle)

POLITICIANS and business leaders have marked a milestone in the construction of a health and well-being village on a site the size of 40 rugby pitches in Llanelli.

They signed a top-floor steel beam at the Pentre Awel complex, by Delta Lakes, to celebrate the completion of the steel framework for the first of four phases of the £200 million-plus project.

Inside zone one of the under-construction Pentre Awel complex, Llanelli (Pic: Richard Youle)

The first phase, known as zone one, is costing £96 million and will feature a new Llanelli Leisure Centre, two swimming pools and a hydrotherapy pool, clinical units such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy run by Hywel Dda University Health Board, plus education, clinical research and business innovation space. There will also be a cafe, paths for walkers and cyclists, landscaping and habitat improvements.

The 25m swimming pool under construction at zone one of Pentre Awel, Llanelli (Pic: Richard Youle)

The scale of the Carmarthenshire Council-led project only becomes clear when you pass through hoardings and into a large car park. It has its own weather mast, up to 200 contractors at any one time, and an onsite catering van.

Lead contractor Bouygues UK put shovels in the ground in earnest just over a year ago, and project director Peter Sharpe said the company was currently on track to meet the 89-week completion target. Early last summer dust was an issue due to a lack of rain. A few months later and the first of 10 named storms made its presence felt.

Up to five cranes have operated there on a single day but not, for safety reasons, when wind speeds exceeded 23mph. The weather mast enables Mr Sharpe and his team to plan in advance and avoid wasted crane hire costs.

Those present at the “topping out” ceremony on February 29 heard that 72% of the zone one construction expenditure had remained within Wales, with Cross Hands-based steel fabricator Shufflebottom Ltd, and Dyfed Steels Ltd and HAC Group, both of Llanelli, among the subcontractors.

Mr Sharpe said 564 tradespeople, apprentices and people on work placements had been sourced from the local area. Pupils from nearby schools have visited the site, learned about construction and been set a design challenge.

Bouygues UK project director Peter Sharpe at Pentre Awel, Llanelli (Pic: Richard Youle)

Zones two and three of Pentre Awel will include up to 370 assisted living units for people with differing care needs, and additional business space. Zone four will feature housing and a hotel. The council will go out to market for prospective hotel companies in the next few weeks. The complex will also accommodate a nursing home.

Council leader Darren Price said he was impressed by the scale and pace of the work. He said he believed Pentre Awel could address health, economic and housing challenges on one site while also providing education and business innovation space. “It will deliver long-lasting health, social and economic benefits,” said Cllr Price.

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Pentre Awel is receiving £40 million of UK and Welsh Government funding and is one of nine city deal projects for the Swansea Bay City Region, which consists of Carmarthenshire, Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and Pembrokeshire.

Carmarthenshire Council and other public sector organisations such as Hwyel Dda University Health Board and universities in the region will contribute just over £50 million, with the private sector to fund the remainder. It is understood the private sector will play an increasing role in the later phases of Pentre Awel, and those involved hope it will eventually create more than 1,800 jobs.

Wales Office Minister Fay Jones was among the visitors touring the site, including the main 25m swimming pool. “The sheer scale and scope of this project is really remarkable,” she said. The UK Government, she said, was very proud to be part of the “shared purpose” on display. Cllr Hazel Evans, cabinet member for regeneration, culture, leisure and tourism, said projects of this kind and scale were rare.

Wales Office Minister Fay Jones, flanked by Carmarthenshire Council leader Darren Price and cabinet member for regeneration, culture, leisure and tourism Hazel Evans at Pentre Awel (Pic: Richard Youle)

The steel frame is now getting a coat of special white paint, which would swell up in the event of fire to stop the steel melting. If the 89-week construction deadline is met, zone one of Pentre Awel will be ready for handover and fit-out this autumn.