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Center Parcs style resort heading to Afan Valley as new delivery team takes forward plans

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A new delivery team has been given conditional planning approval to take forward the transformational Afan Valley leisure resort project which the council say could create hundreds of jobs and provide significant social and environmental benefits for communities in the area.

Development plans for the 325 acre site at Pen-y-bryn near Croeserw have been in the pipeline for a number of years, but have been beset by financial problems.

Now a new delivery team is in place following Neath Port Talbot Council’s request earlier in the year that “necessary assurances” of funding arrangements were place to be able to deliver the scheme.

The new team led by the Salamanca Group, a privately-held merchant banking business and home to experienced investors with a proven track record in delivery, were granted permission to progress the project to its next stages by members of Neath Port Talbot Council’s Planning Committee on Tuesday (October 12th).

Now named the Wildfox Resort Afan Valley, the adventure resort will encompass a hotel, hundreds of lodges, cafes, bars and facilities for skiing, hiking, cycling and other outdoor pursuits.

Martin Bellamy, Chairman and CEO of the Salamanca Group confirmed: “We are creating a new team with the expertise, finance and capability to deliver the Wildfox Resort to achieve positive social and environmental benefits for local communities. We appreciate the complexities of this project, the frustrations and disappointments of the past and understand what is required to turn it around.” 

Neath Port Talbot Council Leader, Cllr Ted Latham, said: “This is an exciting proposal with potentially huge benefits for our residents in the Afan Valley and for the County Borough as a whole.”

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Peter Moore, who developed Center Parcs in the UK, said: “I am delighted to be working with the new team to bring this project forward and remain passionate about the potential of the resort.” 

Karen Jones Chief Executive of Neath Port Talbot Council, added: “The council has been working with the applicant and their agents for some time to ensure sufficient information was submitted to enable the council’s Planning Committee to thoroughly assess the proposed development. As part of this process, officers have been providing advice and guidance and I now look forward to working with the new delivery team to ensure benefits associated with the proposed development are maximised and potential impacts minimised.”

The planning committee’s resolution follows a period of uncertainty after the original decision to grant planning permission in March 2019, including significant matters of concern raised in the national press and on television concerning a director of Afan Valley Ltd. 

The company subsequently went into administration, but with the support of Council Members and Officers, positive discussions with Peter Moore and Duff and Phelps (who were appointed administrators and interim managers of the leisure resort project) led to the submission of the new business plan, and at its Tuesday meeting, the council’s planning committee passed a further, final resolution confirming it was content the Wildfox Resort Afan Valley development is deliverable.

(Lead image: Neath Port Talbot Council)

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Charity

Tesco shoppers in Swansea help to provide £1million boost to health

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People in Swansea have been thanked for contributing towards the £1million raised for
three life-saving charities as part of Tesco’s ‘Helping you to live healthier’ initiative.

Tesco customers reached the landmark total for Cancer Research UK, the British Heart
Foundation and Diabetes UK from 13-26 September by rounding up their shop in store to
the nearest £1.

The funds raised will now help the three charities continue their vital work to save and
improve lives.

In addition to the £1million donated, the campaign raised awareness in Swansea about
the importance of people making sustainable lifestyle changes that can help lower their
risk of cancer, heart and circulatory diseases, and type 2 diabetes.

This was done with the help of trusted health information and advice, which was shared
to empower Tesco customers to take small steps to help improve their health.

Oonagh Turnbull, Head of Health Campaigns at Tesco, thanked Tesco shoppers in
Swansea for their generosity, which will make a significant difference to many people’s
lives.

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She added: “It has been inspiring to see our customers really engage with the work we
are doing together, and we hope that we have played a part in raising awareness for
these conditions, as well as life-saving funds.”

The campaign was part of the Health Charity Partnership between Tesco, Cancer
Research UK, the British Heart Foundation and Diabetes UK, which aims to inspire and
support Tesco colleagues, customers and their families to make healthier food choices
and live healthier lives.

On behalf of the charity partners , Claire Sadler, Executive Director of Marketing,
Fundraising and Engagement at the British Heart Foundation, said
: “We have been amazed by the incredible generosity of Tesco customers and colleagues
and would like to thank everyone who donated during September.

“Your donations will help to empower millions of people to make healthier choices that
lower their risk of heart and circulatory diseases, cancer, and diabetes. It will also help
our charities provide vital support to millions of people at a time it’s never been more
needed, and it will fund research with the potential to save lives.”

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Food & Drink

Work to start next week on new ‘Market Garden’ at Swansea Market

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Construction work is set to start next week on a new ‘Market Garden’ area at the heart of Swansea Market, where people can eat, work and enjoy themselves.

It follows a public consultation back in March where people were able to choose from a number of designs.

Swansea Council say that work will take several weeks, but they aim to keep any disturbance to a minimum and the market will remain fully open.

Transparent fencing will go up around the construction area to keep people safe and to maintain sightlines for neighbouring stalls.

The green-themed Market Garden- due to open in good time for Christmas – will feature more than 170 plants together with an assortment of comfortable, garden-style tables and chairs for visitors to enjoy food and drink bought from a wide variety of market stalls.

Operated in line with latest Covid guidelines, it will have free public Wi-Fi, power charging facilities, recycling bins and a water station to refill water bottles.

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Highchairs will be available to those with young children. There will be warmers for baby bottles and food – and there will be a toddlers’ play table.

For the first time, dog lovers will be able to bring their well-behaved pets to the market. Dogs will be able to enjoy a bowl of water at Swansea Jack’s kennel – as long as they follow the market’s new “doggie rules.”

Council cabinet member Robert Francis-Davies said: “The Market Garden is part of a £440,000 improvement programme at this wonderful venue.

“It will help the market play a key role in Swansea’s great future, being led by our £1bn regeneration scheme.

“These are exciting times for the market and the wider city centre.”

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The Market Garden, which will be close to the famous cockle stalls, will be visible from every direction due to its 7.5m-high pergola, the shape of which mirrors the market’s monumental domed roof.

Once built, The Market Garden will stand on an under-used space in the centre of the market. It currently has tables rented by the day by casual traders.

They will cease trading in that area after this Saturday but will remain in the market, hiring space at a smart new area a few yards away and still next to the world-famous stalls that sell cockles, laver-bread and other delicacies.

Swansea Council appointed a new Market Supervisor, Swansea-born Darren Cox earlier this week. The news came as previous Market Supervisor, John Burns retired after more than 30 years in the job.

Lead Image: How Swansea Market’s new eating, meeting and greeting area – the Market Garden – will look. (Image: Swansea Council)

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Money

Cheapest car insurance falls to six month low despite return of traffic

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woman in yellow shirt driving a silver car

The cheapest average premiums quoted have tumbled over the summer to just £533 – a £60 drop year-on-year.

This is the lowest quarterly average for cheapest premiums available since summer 2015.

The fall in the cheapest average premiums has driven up savings available to motorists. Drivers can save an average of £98 on their car insurance by switching to the cheapest deal when their policy expires. 

The average annual car insurance premium declined by £71 year-on-year across the summer months (June – August), according to the latest Premium Drivers research from comparethemarket.com.

The average premium now stands at £631, compared with an average of £702 for the same three-month period in 2020. 

In each lockdown since March 2020, the cost of car insurance had fallen due to fewer cars being on the road and a subsequent drop in claims. Insurers had used savings from fewer claims to offer lower premiums to customers. However, the average motor insurance premium has also declined in recent months, from £644 in June 21 to £617 in August 21.

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The fall in premiums over the past three months is surprising, as more Covid-19 travel curbs were relaxed and road traffic increased in this time. In fact, road traffic has reverted to pre-pandemic levels with car use returning to 98% of its February 2020 level, on average in August 2021, according to figures from the Department of Transport1. This more recent fall in premiums suggests insurers may be competing more aggressively to attract new customers.  

Young motorists can benefit from the greatest savings by switching car insurance. The average premium for drivers aged under 25 has decreased to £1,085, falling from £1,134 in the same three months (June – August) in 2020.

If young drivers shop around for the cheapest deal on average when their policies come up for renewal, they could typically save £201 on their car insurance. 

Lead image: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels.com)

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