PLANS for a new country park and tourism resort on the East Pit site atGwaun cae Gurwen have been submitted to Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council.

If given the go-ahead, it is said the project would create over 200 full-time jobs and could deliver a projected income to the Neath Port Talbot area of up to £40 million per annum.

The planning application by site owners Oak Regeneration combines proposals for the final stage of coal recovery from the mine with proposals to create a lake and country park as part of the landscape restoration.

The proposed scheme includes a 120-bed five-star hotel, 78 holiday lodges, a water activity centre and dive school, and a touring camp site.

Alan Whiteley for Oak Regeneration, said: “We wanted to come up with a plan to put something back into this community once coaling finishes.

“The site is right beside the Brecon Beacons National Park so the idea of developing an accommodation resort to service the park’s visitors was quite compelling.

“This gave us the economic case to use the site to develop new tourism infrastructure for the area and to use the last phase of the mine to put this in place.”

The project is being developed in association with the Land Trust, who will take on the management of the site under a 99-year lease.

Matthew Bradbury, Director of Operations at the Land Trust said: “We are thrilled to be involved with such an exciting project in the early stages, where we can ensure that any proposals are truly sustainable – financially and environmentally - so that people can continue to benefit from the new country park for generations to come.”

The application was developed by the masterplanning team at SLR Consulting in Cardiff. Paul McTernan, project Director at SLR said: “This is the first project of its kind in Wales where a regeneration project has been predesigned before the surface mine has been completed.

“Precedents exist in places such as the Cotswolds Water Park and Thorpe Park in England where former minerals sites have been transformed into major destination projects that embed long term economic sustainability for communities.

“That’s what we’re trying to create at East Pit.”

A decision on the planning application is expected next spring.