The Works: regenerating former steelworks in Ebbw Vale
Naz Akhtar, of Blaenau Gwent Local Authority, describes The Works, an ambitious project to redevelop the former Ebbw Vale steelworks site in South Wales, achieving regeneration within a strong sustainable development framework.
The Works is a £350 million project to regenerate the 200 acre former steelworks in Ebbw Vale, in a joint venture between the Welsh Government and Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council. The Works is a flagship project for the Welsh Government’s sustainable development agenda, providing a revitalised community through strong regeneration and sustainability principles.
The UK’s first zero carbon house, at The Works, Ebbw Vale
The unique scheme is being delivered within a sustainable development framework with four objectives:
- Social - maximizing employment and business opportunities;
- Economic – strengthening the community and retaining its history and heritage;
- Environmental – improving the natural and built environment through biodiversity and landscape;
- Resource – making efficient use of resources through measures on energy and emissions, water and materials waste.
The site has already been dramatically transformed through many completed elements of the project, including:
- Ysbyty Aneurin Bevan is the UK’s first fully single bedroom hospital, open since December 2010. The hospital has 95 in-patient beds, and an adult mental health unit with out patient day care and 11-bed in-patient facility.
- The Environmental Resource Centre provides a place for school children and the wider community to learn about the ecology and heritage of the former steelworks. The building is the first to use the award winning Ty Unnos Sitka Spruce construction system, turning low cost wood into a high value end product. The centre was officially opened in May 2010 and is now run by Gwent Wildlife Trust.
- Central Valley Wetland Park is the green area of the site, approximately 1.5 km long and 10 hectares in area, and has been re-profiled during the land reclamation contract. Over 200 years of industrial activity had left the area with a loss of natural soil cover and vegetation. An innovative process of creating soil on site was engineered to recycle existing site material with imported fertiliser. Tree planting on the landscape area began in March 2009, with the help of schools from Blaenau Gwent.
- Welsh Future Homes is a development of four showcase experimental low energy homes, helping to establish Ebbw Vale as the centre of a new sustainable construction industry in Wales and inspire a generation of housing that meets new standards in energy efficiency. The houses include the UK’s first zero carbon house, meeting Passivhaus and Code for Sustainable Homes level 6 standards.
- Basement Park retains nine of the former steelworks basements as a heritage feature. Some of these basements were transformed during 2010–2011 and unveiled at the National Eisteddfod, including:
- A community basement designed by various representatives of the Blaenau Gwent Community. The theme of the public space represents the past, present and future of Blaenau Gwent;
- The vertical garden, a winning landscape design from a competition organised by The Works;
- A further two basements were transformed temporarily for the Eisteddfod 2010 to demonstrate how these structures can be used for leisure and recreational purposes, becoming an underground arts basement and an extreme sports facility where visitors were able to zip-wire into the structure
The Environmental Resource Centre at The Works
Other major projects are well underway, including the £110 million learning works programme to provide a first class learning environment for future generations. The learning programme consists of:
- The Blaenau Gwent learning zone (due for completion in September 2012);
- 3-11 school (including special education needs & integrated childcare centre);
- Sports centre;
- 11-16 school;
- Energy centre & multi story car park;
- Public realm & infrastructure.
Once one of the largest steelworks in Europe, the Works is now at the forefront of sustainable development, with the UK’s first zero carbon house developed on the site. Many technologies are being trialed at The Works, providing opportunities to educate the industry in enhanced construction techniques and future sustainable techniques and technologies.
The project has recently been awarded the first exemplary rating in the UK under Greenprint, BRE’s masterplanning tool for creating sustainable communities.
Do you have a comment on this page?
All comments are moderated: we will not publish irrelevant or inappropriate comments. Please note that we require your email to validate your message and will not publish it or use it for any other purpose.