WORK to create a brand new recycling "centre of excellence" in Barnstaple could start within months, the North Devon Gazette has learned.Advanced proposals to convert a former meat processing plant at Roundswell are expected to go before North Devon Council's planning committee in April.If a change of use is approved, the sprawling nine-and-half acre site would undergo extensive modification to enable the council's direct labour unit to relocate from its existing Seven Brethren site - with a view to being fully operational by the end of next year.The council signalled its desire to relocate the DLU to a larger out-of-town site when it bought the site at Brynsworthy for \u00A31.4m, in May last year. Its urgency was boosted by the decision to bring the dry kerbside recycling contract in-house - and to a redevelopment timescale affecting Seven Brethren."We have been looking for a new DLU site for many years and this presents us with a fantastic opportunity to develop the council's waste handling capabilities by creating a recycling centre of excellence," waste and recycling portfolio holder Cllr Rodney Cann told the Gazette."The existing site has always been too small and we have to vacate the current depot within the next 12 months to enable the redevelopment of Seven Brethren Bank."The move is completely self-funded thanks to the sale of the old site. The money will pay for the new site at Roundswell, necessary modifications, and leave us with a capital receipt on top of that which will be of obvious benefit to the council tax payer," added Cllr Cann.The council, which currently recycles 42 per cent of household waste at peak periods, sees the redevelopment of the redundant brown-field site as the key to hitting mid-term recycling targets of 60 per cent. The new depot would provide recycling solutions for North Devon for 30 years, although it is understood that calculations to maximize the benefit of the site are actually as far reaching as 2060.THE Gazette has been given an exclusive tour of the site that could soon be the Direct Labour Unit's new Roundswell home.The former abattoir at its peak employed more than 80 staff and processed 11,000 lamb carcasses per week. It has a rabbit warren of offices and rooms that feed into what will become a large recycling hall, discreetly tucked into the hillside.It would provide a six-bay vehicle maintenance workshop; a residual and green waste store; a recycle plant; offices; lorry wash areas; bulk storage facility; storage space for parts, fuel, bags, wheelie bins, composters and toilet stock; a disaster recovery suite; as well as parking for 24 HGVs, 76 box vans, transits and sweepers and up to 200 cars. A viewing room and education centre for school visits is also envisaged."We estimate that the new depot will save the council \u00A3100,000 per year," said Cllr Cann. "It will enable us to expand on the materials collected and bulk up waste on site."Compacting materials will reduce the number of vehicle movements to Deepmoor, which will have obvious benefits to people living in Newton Tracey," he added."There will be greater capacity to handle trade waste recycling and work with other partners on site on a more commercially-based level."John Laird, the council's manager of the built environment, said additional office space could also be developed."The site has massive potential," he said."We are looking at a whole series of feasibility studies including a transport assessment study, and the planning application also includes highway alterations to improve access to the site."We estimate that the site would take around 10 months to convert and the first phase of work would see the creation of maintenance and loading bays and up to 100 office spaces."The council is working with architects Reed Holland Associates, who designed the original building in the early 1990s, and contracts for both the buildings and highways works are expected to go out to tender in the next few weeks.