People living near the derelict Cwm Coke Works site are calling for it to be demolished

People living near a former coke works in Tynant, near Pontypridd, are calling for progress with plans to redevelop the site.

The huge Cwm Coke Works closed in 2002.

The Cwm Coke Works site seen from the air

Owner CPL Industries has outline planning permission to build more than 800 homes on the site, along with a school.

It says the cost of cleaning up the site and making it suitable for resident development could exceed £10 million.

The coke works closed in 2002

Former coke worker Mervyn Roberts worked at the site for 21 years.

Mervyn Roberts says the sight is now an eyesore

He remembers his time fondly, but wants to see the site demolished and reused.

It was great, great atmosphere. Dirty work, but everybody was the same. You just got in there, got on with it, but the camaraderie between people was outstanding"

I really enjoyed it here, and it will be sad when it's down.

But it just needs to come down. It's an eyesore, especially living locally. It's one thing that stands out everywhere

– Mervyn Roberts

The coke works and the neighbouring Cwm Colliery, which closed in 1986, dominated the area.

The coke works viewed from Beddau in the 1980s

One of the main memories I've got of this site is of the trucks thundering in and out from early in the morning, carrying the coal in and carrying the coke away again, and the massive plumes of smoke and steam that you would see from this whole site when it was running.

This whole site is one giant machine!

– Sam Trask

The site closed in 2002.

In 2014, owners CPL Industries were granted outline planning permission to demolish the buildings (with the exception of certain listed ones) ahead of a major residential project.

The plans would cover the former coke works and adjoining Cwm Colliery site and tip, and would see the construction of up to 857 homes and landscaping of the site.

The site is one of key strategic importance for the Council and the regeneration opportunities of this development for Rhondda Cynon Taf are significant.

Council officers have worked with CPL and their advisors to bring the site forward in a way that meets the needs of the company and local community.

There is currently an application for Listed Building Consent for the demolition and removal of one of the listed buildings on the site that has collapsed and we await the advice of Cadw in that matter.

– Rhondda Cynon Taf Council
The giant concrete coal bunker

Local councillor Clayton Willis says the site has been regularly broken into and is also a target for explorers.

It'll be sad to see it gone, because so many people earned their living out of living and working on the site, but we have to move on, and I think that it has to be done, and as soon as possible really, but there's a lot of youngsters who come up here and play.

I accept that it's going to cost a lot of money, but that's a way of life.

– Cllr Clayton Willis
The former Cwm Colliery site can be seen to the right

CPL says it is still actively pursuing the redevelopment plans, but adds that the costs of clearing and cleaning up the site would run into "tens of millions of pounds".

I can understand the frustration of the local community.

The issue is the amount of remediation work and the amount of work in terms of sorting the tip out and having a comprehensive redevelopment of the site. This all really happens at the start of the project.

You're talking tens of millions of pounds of upfront cost before anyone can get into the position where we can sell houses.

It's not the sort of risk that a house builder would like to take on. In an ideal world they're looking for smaller sites, that are ready developed, ready for them to start building houses and quite quickly turning that into revenue"

We have no benefit in leaving the site as it is.

For us it's a financial drain, both in terms of the work required to get to this state in terms of planning, and just keeping the site secure.

We've spending significant sums of money each year just keeping it safe and ensuring that it's maintained"

– Darren Wake, CPL Industries