South West Wales

Demolition of fire-hit Afan Lido in Aberavon begins

Afan Lido after the fire
Image caption Neath Port Talbot council pledged to replace the Afan Lido within hours of the fire that destroyed it

Demolition has begun of a seafront leisure complex which was destroyed by fire.

The Afan Lido in Aberavon was gutted in 2009 but clearing the site has been hampered by the presence of asbestos.

Work to remove it has been completed and now the remains of the building will be flattened.

A new swimming pool, sports hall and community centre replacement is set for completion in 2013 at a cost of £13.6m.

"I am delighted to see the work start to demolish the old Afan Lido," said Neath Port Talbot council leader Ali Thomas.

"It has been a complicated process and a lot of hard, unseen work has been going on before we could get to this stage.

"I now look forward to the new Afan Lido making its mark on this famous seafront."

The Afan Lido was opened in 1965 by the Queen with Graham Jenkins, the brother of Hollywood star Richard Burton, its first manager.

Over the years, the venue was able to host large-scale concerts, and the bands who played there crossed musical eras, from Spencer Davies to Pink Floyd and more recently Coldplay and McFly.

Six-lane swimming pool

But in December 2009, homes were evacuated and roads closed as more than 100 firefighters tackled a large blaze at the lido.

Image caption The Afan Lido replacement will house a 25m pool, sports hall and dance studio

At the height of the blaze, 17 fire vehicles were deployed and crews were unable to enter the the leisure centre once the flames broke through the roof.

A total of 2,628 people took part in a Neath Port Talbot council consultation on replacing the Afan Lido.

Although many people said they would like to see an identical rebuild, the council said it was costing £700,000 a year to keep the old lido going.

Instead, it is proposing a new 25m six-lane swimming pool to replace the Aquadome water attraction and slides that used to exist.

There will also be a four court indoor sports hall and new community facilities.

Sandfields library and lifelong learning centre will move to the site once it is completed.

Councillors have been told the total project cost had been budgeted at £13.6m.

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