PLANS to replace former pithead baths with housing in a Blaenau Gwent village have been called ‘disrespectful’ to the memory of miners.
The baths served the former Llanhilleth Colliery, which closed in 1969, but the building has been unused and derelict for around 30 years.
Blaenau Gwent Council is consulting with residents on plans to bring the site back into use as housing.
A council spokesman said the plan is “the first step in what is potentially a brighter future for the site”.
But Gaynor Joseph, of Hillside Terrace, said residents living near the site would prefer to see a memorial relocated to a more prominent position to mark the village’s mining history.
Ms Joseph said a winding wheel which details the history of the colliery is “hidden away” in woods.
“For many years the residents of the village have been asking for the winding wheel to be brought out of hiding,” Ms Joseph said.
“It’s currently in a wood known as Granny’s Wood but it’s hidden away with no signage showing people where it is.”
While some residents want to see the pithead baths demolished, Ms Joseph said the proposals for housing at the site had “upset a lot of people” living in the area.
Instead, she would like to see the area landscaped and a monument put on the site, with space for car parking.
“People want a monument to remember the miners,” she said.
“I think it’s disrespectful to the memories of a mining community.
“If the pithead baths are demolished and houses are put there without some sort of monument, I would consider that disrespectful to the memory of miners.”
Concerns over traffic and parking issues have also been raised, with the site currently used as a turning area for lorries.
Peter Regan, who also lives in the area, said the pithead baths should have been demolished “a long time ago”.
“It is not only an eyesore but also a structurally unsafe building,” Mr Regan said.
“There is clear visible evidence of significant structural defects and the site is not secure to prevent unauthorised access.”
But Mr Regan said there is a “lack of transparency” over the options which have been considered for the site.
Blaenau Gwent council said an independent report found housing was “the most realistic and deliverable option for the site”.
A council spokesman said it is working on a business case including funding options and acquisition of the land which is currently in private ownership.
“This approach was supported by the council in September 2020 and enables us to work towards potentially breathing some life back into this old derelict site in Llanhilleth, which has been an eyesore for residents living nearby for many years,” the spokesman said.