VALE Councillors are remaining tight-lipped about proposals for the grade II listed vacant hydraulic Pumphouse, but report positive negotiations over the scheme.
The Vale Council is talking to a developer but said it could not yet reveal details due to contract negotiations and their commercial sensitivity.
The Cadw listed building, in 2010, underwent a £1 million external restoration funded by the Welsh Government and Vale Council in 2010.
The scheme is believed to comprise of retail and housing.
Vale Council cabinet member for regeneration, innovation, planning and transportation, Cllr Lis Burnett said: “The future of Barry and its residents have been at the forefront of all our discussions regarding the Pumphouse as we seek to bring this special building back into productive use for the town. Those discussions include our original funding bid to the Welsh government, our current negotiations with developers and our approach to the regeneration of the town as a whole. We are pleased with the progress of negotiations to date and look forward to the time when the developer is able to share the complete scheme with the town. "
Pride in Barry chairman Paul Haley said: “There are real questions for Welsh government as they funded much of the regeneration works but it appears without any idea of a use so there are questions over the investment appraisal that authorised use of public monies and then questions over whether there will be a return on that investment. A question about capital investment is whether money could be better invested elsewhere.”
He added: “There has never been any thought on what to do with the building. Cllr Neil Moore claimed it would be a museum and cited incredible projected visitor figures and then never did anything to make this happen. That's the problem in a nutshell :lots of talk and warm words but very few making things happen. So the easy option is to create yet more housing but no job creation for any of the new inhabitants. It’s time for the Vale Council to address economic development and deliver jobs from these investments.
Local heritage campaigner Ade Pitman said he welcomed development, but it was sad to see another potential Vale museum lost to housing use.
Ade said: “In the options appraisal commissioned by the previous Vale Council, the Pumping House was cited as being a good venue for such facility.
“With vision, the iconic pumping house building could have been turned into a world class heritage centre, comparable to anything that Swansea or Cardiff has, in which to showcase the history of Barry and the Docks; but now that opportunity has been lost forever.
“One only needs to look to Swansea Waterfront to see how such a development would have attracted heritage tourism, and provided an educational venue for local schools.
“I am interested to see how the mounts for the original pumps, the housing of which were the purpose of the building, are to be integrated into any design. These take up the majority of one of the halls, and are of significant historic value, even though the pumps and machinery that once sat on them have found their way to the scrap yard, like so much of the region's heritage.
“If a county museum was not on the cards, I personally would have liked to have been offered one of the smaller buildings on the site, into which to create a Great War museum. A site visit that I made to the building last year, showed that there is no floor, but that would have made it possible to have been able to display a trench scene from both the actual trench, and from within no-man's land.”