A landmark regeneration project on the outskirts of Llanelli has been given the go ahead by the UK and Welsh Governments, securing £40m in City Deal funding. Arup has worked closely with Carmarthenshire County Council and project stakeholders to develop a brief, explore design options and submit RIBA Stage 3 proposals for the Pentre Awel scheme which is due to start on site later this year. This innovative provision of social infrastructure will transform the post-industrial site to create a vibrant new amenity for the whole community.
The Delta Lakes site, once home to a range of industries that made Llanelli prosperous in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, has remained undeveloped since the late twentieth century. Historic uses have left a legacy of contamination which this development will address as part of a site-wide regeneration to create a generous public landscape themed around health and wellbeing, while setting the context for future phases of development.
The initial phase will bring together higher education and employment in life sciences businesses, community healthcare and modern leisure facilities – within a single building. The ‘one building’ solution brings together diverse user groups with the aim of improving outcomes for the Llanelli community, from health and wellbeing throughout the five life stages set out in the Welsh Government’s Wellbeing of Future Generations Act and addressing the UK Government’s post-covid ‘levelling up’ agenda in a community challenged by high levels of unemployment and chronic health conditions.
This pioneering development is arranged as a series of five two and three-storey buildings connected by an enclosed street, its scale paying homage to the proportions of Llanelli’s historic core. A major driver of the design was a desire to maximise daylight throughout. Meanwhile, the landscaping seeks to bring the outside in, encouraging people to explore and remain active. It permeates into the courtyard entrances that erode the building form, and key spaces within enjoy spectacular views across the adjacent lake and west to the Loughor Estuary.
A simple and robust palette of external materials have been selected to create a timeless, welcoming and low-maintenance building which responds to its context. The elevations of brick and profiled metal reflect the site’s industrial heritage, whilst the fractured massing avoids the scale of the building overwhelming its context. Roofs are profiled metal and green/brown roofs, with photovoltaic panels generating electricity which contributes to the renewable energy strategy.
Sustainability is a central consideration, with a requirement to achieve BREEAM Excellent as a minimum, reducing embodied and operational energy where feasible within the budget constraints, thus minimising whole life impact.
Jo Wright, Architecture Practice Leader, Arup, said: “Throughout the design process, we have adopted a holistic approach to sustainability, striving to maximise social, environmental and economic benefits in the long term. This scheme is a perfect exemplar for the post-Covid levelling up agenda, placing health and wellbeing at the heart of regeneration in one of the UK’s most deprived communities.”
Carmarthenshire County Council Leader Cllr Emlyn Dole said: “Pentre Awel will be the first development of its scope and size in Wales delivering business, research, health, education and state-of-the-art leisure facilities all on one location along the Llanelli coastline.
“It will generate a wide range of employment and training opportunities for local people while considerably boosting the local economy to further accelerate our economic recovery from Covid-19.
“The designs showcase the council’s ambition to create a development that is landscape-led, connected to local communities and amenities and is sustainable and we are very excited that we will soon be in a position to start delivering this truly original development.”
Pentre Awel is being delivered by Carmarthenshire County Council in partnership with Hywel Dda University Health Board, Universities and Colleges including Coleg Sir Gar, the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Swansea University and Cardiff University.
The development will also include assisted living accommodation, along with a nursing home, a hotel, and elements of both open market and social and affordable housing.