The iconic Metal Box factory in Neath, an important part of the local economy for more than 80 years, is now operational again for the first time in almost four years. Local councillors were given a tour of the site to mark the occasion and be shown plans for the further development of the site.
The factory is up and running again thanks to investment by Sevenoaks Modular, a Neath-based specialist in timber frame construction. The company aims to invest some £6.5million in acquiring and regenerating a large part of the industrial site. With phase 1 investment of almost £500,000 now complete, some 20 people are already employed at the site.
Councillors for Neath Port Talbot, Sandra and John Miller were recently shown around the 250,000sq ft site and discussed the company’s future plans for it. Sevenoaks Modular, which currently employs around 100 people in Neath, anticipates it will double its workforce in the next 12 months in conjunction with its expansion to the site. The move will also allow it to go from producing 1,000 homes per year to more than 3,000 per year.
John and Sandra Miller said: “When the Metal Box closed I don’t think anyone expected to see its doors open again. After our guided tour of the facility this morning it is easy to become hopeful again. This is an exciting development which highlights a company who are able to adapt and utilise the space available to them.
Charlotte Hale, Director of Sevenoaks Modular added: “This is just the start for us. We will eventually have all our manufacturing based at the site. Our long-term plans will mean a significant investment in the local economy and allow us to keep pace with demand and all while pushing an environmentally friendly agenda, both in terms of the style of construction we champion and in terms of how we will regenerate the site itself.” In partnership with local education providers, it will also establish a training academy for young people looking to get a foothold in the construction industry, and open parts of the site up to use by the wider community. The company anticipates all the work will be completed and the site fully operational within 12 months.
Sevenoaks Modular has an order book in excess of £10million all with tier one contractors and large property developers. It anticipates further rapid growth, which is partly being driven by government initiatives to build more homes quickly. The UK Government set a target of building 300,000 new homes in 2017 and the Welsh Government aims to build 20,000 new affordable homes by 2021.
JG Hale Construction now has a turnover in excess of £40million. It will move all of its operations to the new site using the vast space as an indoor, offsite construction hub.