AMBITIOUS plans to erect an impressive gateway sculpture at the entrance to Pontypridd have been unveiled.

Andy Hazell, a sculptor from Knighton Powys, was selected from 77 national and international artists to design an iconic landmark feature for the roundabout adjacent to the A470 in Pontypridd.

His ‘Wheel of Drams’ has become a popular landmark in Hengoed and his giant ‘Thumbprint’ sculpture attracts attention outside the Swansea police headquarters The latest project, managed by Public Art Wales, the new organisation for placing art in the public realm in Wales, once more illustrates Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s ongoing commitment to the regeneration of the famous market town.

The top British artist held a series of workshops as part of the public art project with groups of young people accessing the Detached Youth Team’s Services and also a group involved with the Youth Offending Services.

The workshops, held at Pontypridd YMCA included tin-making schemes where participants were asked to shape their ideas of iconic features of the county borough’s largest town. Steeped in history, the workshops focused on elements that can clearly be seen in the designs, such as the William Edwards Bridge, the Glamorganshire Canal, Taff Vale Railway and Brown Lenox Chainworks.

Following months of research of preparatory work, Andy Hazell has now unveiled his proposals to the Council’s planning committee who will make a firm decision on the application to place the sculpture opposite to the former Brown Lenox factory later next month.

A site meeting was held at the proposed area this week and if planning permission is approved at the next Taff Ely Development Control Committee on October 16th then it is hoped the sculpture will be installed in March 2009.

The commission contract for the sculpture was raised through a joint funding package from a variety of sources, including Arts Council of Wales, Art and Business, Pontypridd Town Council, Pontypridd Market Company and Rhondda Cynon Taf Council.

The Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Housing Cllr Paul Cannon explained: "Andy Hazell’s designs were commissioned to create an iconic gateway sculpture. Our support of this scheme once again displays our commitment to the regeneration of Pontypridd town centre.

"The association between famous physical features and their respective towns and cities is an important part of promoting the identity of a place, often acting as an enticement for people to come and visit as well as cementing a strong sense of local pride and confidence."