A new leisure centre will be built in Neath town centre with a swimming pool, gym, cafe and library after councillors approved the plans.
The 7,082 sqm development is part of Neath Port Talbot council’s plans for the regeneration of Neath town centre.
The two-storey building will include a swimming pool, health suite, gym, cafe, public library and six commercial units.
The leisure centre will be built on Water Street, on the site of the former multi-storey car park, Wilko, and Tesco Metro Stores, which have been demolished.
Neath’s existing library and leisure centre will be relocated to the new building.
Seven Sisters representative Steve Hunt said: “I think today is something to celebrate.
“We all would look forward to that shovel or spade going in the ground”.
The council granted outline planning permission for Neath town centre to be redeveloped in 2013.
Since then various planning applications were considered for the town including plans for eight retail units, which were approved in February 2019 but will be replaced by the plans for the leisure centre.
Sandfields East representative Sean Pursey said: “The Neath town centre development has been something that’s been quite a long running project to get off the ground.”
The Labour councillor said the approval of the plans is “a good indication” that the council is “trying to be innovative and thinking outside the box”.
“It looks like we have finally found a winning formula.”
Neath North representative Mark Protheroe said the final plan for the leisure centre has been “a long time coming”.
“I certainly welcome this,” he said.
The leisure centre will be built by UK construction company Kier.
A new library and 100 station gym will be located on the first floor and there will be roof lights above the pool area on the ground floor to allow natural light to come in.
There could also be “al fresco style seating and tables” on the nearby plaza as an outdoor space for the cafe.
Councillor Suzanne Paddison, representative for Sandfields West, said: “I think this is a very exciting development for Neath Port Talbot.
“We are pushing boundaries as a council.”
The council’s planning officer Steve Ball said the new leisure centre is “a really really positive development for the centre of Neath” which will “encourage people to come into the town centre”.
Cllr Paddison agreed that the new leisure centre “does tick the boxes” of how to attract visitors to the town.
Development on the site must begin within the next five years, according to the planning application.
It is not yet known exactly how many staff will be needed once the leisure centre opens.
Neath Town Council made no objections to the latest plans for the development.