Two of Rhondda Cynon Taf’s Discovery Gateways have been allocated a combined £1.1m from the Welsh Government under a wider package of funding to develop the Valleys Regional Park.
Through the total £6.6m of funding, the Dare Valley Country Park has been attributed £803,600 to deliver a vastly improved visitor offer through the creation of family-accessible bike paths and play area improvements; whilst £296,398 will see Ynysangharad War Memorial Park, which is home to the National Lido of Wales, Lido Ponty, benefit from improvements to the existing footpaths and also the installation of a changing places facility that will provide more space than a normal accessible toilet.
The Valleys Regional Park (VRP) is a Valleys Taskforce initiative which aims to maximise the social, economic and cultural heritage assets of the Valleys by improving their offer to local people and communities and also to visitors. In late 2018, the Welsh Government announced the selection of 11 Discovery Gateways across the Valleys, including the Dare Valley Country Park and Ynysangharad War Memorial Park in Rhondda Cynon Taf. A budget of £7m was subsequently allocated to improving the Discovery Gateways through the Valleys Regional Park Grant Programme and the Council submitted bids for both sites in May 2019.
In a further boost, the Council will provide match funding to improve the existing accommodation (including the hotel bathrooms) at the Dare Valley Country Park and also extend and refurbish the touring caravan shower block.
The Council is also awaiting the outcome of two bids for additional improvements to Ynysangharad War Memorial Park through the Targeted Regional Investment Fund (TRI) and Heritage Lottery Funding grant which, if successful, could see the total funding for the Park rising to £2m.
Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, County Borough Councillor Andrew Morgan, said: “This funding will provide a significant boost to both of Rhondda Cynon Taf’s Discovery Gateways, allowing for important upgrades and improvements to be made that will make a tangible difference to our residents and visitors.
“It is vitally important that we take full advantage of both the cultural and natural attractions here in RCT and across the Valleys region, and this funding forms part of a wider package that really strives to make the most of what we have in the South Wales area through the creation of the Valleys Regional Park.
“This latest announcement builds on the recent allocation of £10m of funding to extend this Council’s empty homes scheme across the rest of the Valleys region and it is clear that, unlike previous initiatives, the Valleys Taskforce is targeting funding to the areas that residents see as a priority based on the feedback received through a number of engagement events.
“The Taskforce has a clear aim of making the Valleys a place where people want to work, live and visit, and initiatives such as these will help to deliver a range of social, economic and environmental benefits that will help to make this aim a reality.”
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Leisure and Heritage Services, Councillor Ann Crimmings, added: “I am delighted by this announcement to award £1.1m of funding to support projects in Dare Valley Country Park and Ynysangharad War Memorial Park.
“Both of our Discovery Gateways already have a fantastic offer for residents and visitors, and this funding will only allow this to be further developed as we seek to make the most of the wonderful parks we have here in RCT.
“We recognise that these attractions cannot exist in isolation, however, and it remains a key priority for this Authority that we can capitalise on the appeal of other attractions across the County Borough to provide a complete experience for our residents and visitors alike.
“For instance, the upper Cynon Valley already has a strong appeal for tourism with the Penderyn Distillery located a short distance from the Dare Valley Country Park and this offer will hopefully be expanded with Zip World potentially coming to the Rhigos Mountain. Similarly, the Ynysangharad War Memorial Park is home to the increasingly popular National Lido of Wales, Lido Ponty, and it is also a short distance from the Welsh Mining Experience at the Rhondda Heritage Park.
“We are also continuing to support the reopening of the Rhondda and Abernant Tunnels, which will allow us to link up with the already established active tourism offer at Afan Argoed and BikePark Wales.”
Posted on Friday 13th September 2019