Closed-down Corus plant in Ebbw Vale is to be reconceived as a major mixed-use scheme by January 2003.
New plans have emerged for a huge mixed-use redevelopment of the former Corus tin-plate factory in Ebbw Vale, south Wales.

Joint clients Corus, the Welsh Development Agency and Blaenau Gwent council have appointed three firms to masterplan the 2 km long, 600 m wide site.

Architect Llewelyn-Davies, engineer Parsons Brinckerhoff and financial adviser Pricewaterhouse Coopers will produce a plan by January 2003.

One of the firms' first priorities will be to assess the factory's basement structures, some of which are up to 27 m deep.

Llewelyn-Davies project director Simon Gray said the team would be looking at keeping the structures.

Gray said: "There is a whole labyrinth of them out there. Rather than dig them out, which could cost millions, we are looking at whether they could be used for storage, archives or links through the site. We have a lot of ideas."

The team is also considering opening up the Ebbw Fawr River, which has lain hidden beneath the works for many years, to make it a feature of the new development.

There are plans for a further education campus for Coleg Gwent in the northern part of the site and the redevelopment will have links to a rail service from Ebbw Vale town centre to Cardiff, which is due to be introduced by 2005.

A mixed-use scheme, including residential, business and retail uses, is proposed for the rest of the land.

Llewelyn-Davies said it would be holding workshops with residents as well as opening a project "shop" in nearby Ebbw Vale to consult community members on the project.

John Hopkins, leader of Blaenau Gwent council, said the scheme would offer new opportunities to the community after the closure of the factory.

It is the second major development proposal for a former industrial site in south Wales this year. In February the Welsh Development Agency and BP announced plans for an urban village at a 5 ha site in Llandarcy, near Neath.