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TALKS with the new owners of an almost entirely deserted shopping centre in Ebbw Vale have taken place, councillors have been told.

It was revealed a few weeks ago that Birmingham-based Mercia Real Estate Ltd had bought the Festival Park site in July.

Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council have a long-term lease on the parkland at the site.

At a meeting of the council’s Budget Monitoring joint scrutiny committee, Cllr Wayne Hodgins asked whether and any changes to the lease would be made and whether they impact the council’s finances.

The council’s director of regeneration and community services Richard Crook said: “In terms of the arrangement with the new owners it will be the same as the old one.

“We are in a long-term lease we have to make payments to the new company as we did to the old.

“We are in good positive dialogue with the company, they will want to make sure the parkland helps the whole development and I hope we’ll see the site as good if not better than it currently is.”

Any changes to the council’s lease will need to be agreed by the Executive committee and ratified at a full council meeting.

The final UK Garden Festival was held at the 75-acre site in 1992 and attracted over two million visitors to Ebbw Vale.

Garden festivals were the idea of Michael Heseltine during his time as environment minister in the 1980s Conservative government.

They were a supposed to be seen as a symbol of “re-birth” of derelict land in parts of the country which had seen the decline of heavy industry

The Festival Park site had once been home to steel and ironworks which had been demolished in the early 1980s.

The site later became a shopping park that featured over 30 shops and restaurants, with a children’s play park and an owl sanctuary.

But now only one shop is left.

Ideas to regenerate the site have included, turning it into a leisure and tourist destination, with mountain biking, zip wires, a cinema and hotel.

Last year the council had investigated buying the site outright themselves, but later abandoned the plan.

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