Tata Steel applied two years ago for a land recategorisation that would have massively increased the value of its land in Port Talbot, it has emerged, raising questions about how long the company has planned to sell its Port Talbot operation.
The revelation comes amid the news the Indian-owned steel company plans to sell off its UK operations, and suggests Tata may have been keeping its options open in Port Talbot for some time.
A document published on the Council website shows bosses applied to have the parcel of land adopted into the settlement area in January 2014 when the Local Development Plan (LDP) was in consultation.
Current problems in the steel market, including the dumping of Chinese steel on the international market, were not in evidence when the application was made.
Adoption of land into the settlement area allows planning permission for residential developments to be more readily approved, meaning its value increases.
Neath Port Talbot Council did not approve the request.
However a Tata spokesman told the Magnet in February that he was not aware of any such application.
He said: “We are only aware of one plan – to fight for the sustainability of the steelworks.”
The application appears on page 164 of the Register of Alternative sites published as part of the Deposit LDP.
Margam councillor Rob Jones, who is head of the planning committee, said: “The application raised my suspicions that Tata was keeping its options open. You have to ask, did Tata Steel see the writing on the wall for the steel industry back in 2014? Why did they apply to have their land adopted in the LDP back then? Were they trying to increase the value of their land in preparation for selling it?”