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Written - St Athan Development Scheme
Assembly Members will wish to note that planning applications in respect of the redevelopment proposals for the former RAF site at St Athan were submitted to the Vale of Glamorgan Council (VoGC) on 12 May 2009.
The proposals include the development of a Defence Technical College (DTC) which is being developed by the Metrix consortium and an Aerospace Business Park (ABP) which is being promoted by the Welsh Assembly Government.
Metrix is the Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) preferred bidder for the provision of joint services technical training. Metrix intends to modify the Red Dragon Super Hangar which will act as the centre piece of the new DTC. Financial Close i.e. contract signature, between MOD and Metrix is expected in the third quarter of 2010 for this 30 year contract. Subject to statutory approvals, the MOD anticipates construction of the DTC to start in the fourth quarter of 2010 with the College expected to open in 2014/15.
The ABP will involve the redevelopment and expansion of the remaining areas of the former RAF site plus additional land acquired, or being acquired, by the Assembly Government. A phased development of the ABP is planned gradually converting the existing buildings into new or upgraded hangar space over the period from 2010 until 2028 to create a centre of excellence for the maintenance, repair and overhaul of aircraft.
The proposals have undergone a programme of awareness raising, consultation and communication with the local community and other stakeholders. This programme of consultation began in 2006 when the Vale of Glamorgan Council and the joint project team consulted widely on now adopted St Athan Development Brief. In July 2008, a programme of pre-planning public consultation began which continued through to April 2009. Further information about the development proposals and the public consultation can be found at www.st-athanconsultation.co.uk.
Most of the land required is either under a long lease or owned by the Assembly Government. Heads of Terms have been agreed between the Assembly Government and the MOD for the provision of land and infrastructure for the development scheme. These in-principle arrangements will be formalised in a new legally binding agreement between the two parties in the next few months. The Heads of Terms are therefore subject to contract.
The Assembly Government’s role in this transaction involves the assembly and provision of the land required for the joint development, provision of services to the DTC site boundary, certain enabling works, and provision of basic infrastructure including associated highway improvements. It should be noted that these works, or similar would be required for any full site redevelopment.
The infrastructure costs of providing a serviced site and associated highway improvements for the site is spread over six accounting periods from 2009/10 to 2014/15 as follows:
£10.6 million in 2009/10
£13.5 million in 2010/11
£10.6 million in 2011/12
£ 4.2 million in 2012/13
£ 7.9 million in 2013/14
£ 1.3 million in 2014/15
After taking contingencies and the cost of the site roads for the ABP into account, the overall expenditure will be capped at £60 million over the six years.
The joint cost infrastructure works will be funded by the Assembly Government over the next six years from the Department of the Economy and Transport’s budget. However, half of this expenditure will be recovered, with interest, from the MOD over a five year period from 2014 when the site comes into active use.
No Assembly Government funds will be committed until legally binding arrangements based on the Heads of Terms are in place. In the event that the DTC does not achieve Financial Close, the Heads of Terms includes provision for the reimbursement by MOD of Assembly Government costs of works before that date. As part of this agreement, the MOD will underwrite Assembly Government’s expenditure on early works up to a maximum of £12.5 million as part of the main expenditure commitment to be made before Financial Close.
The proposed expenditure does not include the cost of constructing new hangars. The ABP plans envisage a flexible delivery model to be developed, with the private sector playing an important role.
St Athan is identified as a Strategic Opportunity Area in the Wales Spatial Plan. The Assembly Government has endorsed the development proposals for St Athan as a major opportunity for Wales and the South East regional economy. We are working closely with all partners through the Vale Local Service Board (and neighbouring LSBs) in order to ensure that Wales maximises the benefits from this substantial investment.
The next key step is that as part of its role in determining the planning applications, the Vale of Glamorgan Council will conduct a statutory public consultation during which public comment on the plans will be sought by the Council. This statutory public consultation is expected to take place over the next few months. Details of this public consultation will be publicised by the Council in due course.
I will keep Members informed of any significant developments concerning this project.