PLANS to transform a derelict church and a block of public toilets in Pontypool into a cultural hub and café have taken a step forward after the project received £7.6 million in levelling up funding.

The Pontypool Cultural Hub project is one of 11 across Wales to receive funding from the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund, which aims to create jobs and grow the economy.

The project aims to convert the Grade II listed St James’ Church into a cultural hub – including a pop-up cinema, pop-up food and exhibition spaces, and a bar-servery with indoor and outdoor seating and space for community events.

It would also see a block of public toilets converted into a café which would then double up as a ‘small plates’ style restaurant in the evenings.

The funding would also be used to renovate one of the town centre’s car parks.

Overall, the project is expected to cost £9.3 million.

South Wales Argus: The project will see St James' Church transformed into a cultural hub.The project will see St James' Church transformed into a cultural hub. (Image: Torfaen council)

Torfaen Council's executive member for economy, skills and regeneration, Cllr Joanne Gauden, said: “The new attractions will provide the link between the high street and some of the most popular attractions in the town, so the thousands of people using the park, canal, river or museum will be drawn into the town centre.

“We have some wonderful assets in the town and all these projects will deliver a reason to visit Pontypool of an evening.”

Leader of Torfaen council, Cllr Anthony Hunt, said: “I’m delighted our Pontypool bid was successful.

“This project is about building a positive future for the town and also part our wider plans that are bringing jobs and investment; bringing landmark properties back in to use; and bringing people back to the town.

“We already have a fantastic park and the world’s greatest rugby club – this project seeks to build on those strengths and secure a brighter future for the town centre.”

South Wales Argus:

Welsh secretary David TC Davies and Torfaen MP Nick Thomas-Symonds paid a visit to St James’ Church to celebrate the awarding of the funding.

“I welcome the approval of the bid I supported for Pontypool and thank Torfaen County Borough Council for all the work done in preparing it,” said Mr Thomas-Symonds. “I am disappointed the bid I supported for Blaenavon was not approved in this round but I'll continue to make the case for sustained investment in our valley.”

“This is a hugely significant investment in truly significant projects across Wales,” said Mr Davies.

“This funding will regenerate town centres and historic buildings, create new cycle and walking paths through some of our most beautiful countryside, improve facilities for visitors, deliver transport solutions for Cardiff and contribute to the health and future job opportunities for people in the areas involved. 

“I am very much looking forward to following the progress of these projects as they help us achieve our ambitions of levelling up the UK and growing the Welsh economy.” 

The Cultural Hub project is expected to be completed by March 2025.