Merthyr Tydfil’s ambition to become a premier UK activity tourism destination has taken another step nearer realisation with the launch of a major redevelopment of one of its star attractions.
Rock UK Summit Centre in Treharris, formerly the Welsh International Climbing Centre, is planning to double its visitor numbers through the creation of a new 100-bed outdoor education and residential centre.
The project has received £2.3m from the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government and will create a ‘step-change’ in the sustainability of the centre and local employment prospects.
Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure Ken Skates AM today (Monday, November 28, 2016) helped mark the start of work by taking part in a ground-breaking ceremony.
The redevelopment – which will also include a bike skills course, gym, café and children’s play area -.is the second phase of a programme of improvement carried out by national Christian charity Rock UK following the opening last year of a high ropes course and floodlit all-weather sports pitch.
The Summit Centre currently has around 14,000 visitors per year, and the new accommodation is expected to result in annual visitor numbers of between 25,000 and 30,000.
As well as financial and development support from Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council, funding has also been obtained from a range of other organisations, including the Ffos-y-fran Community Fund.
Leader of Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council Cllr Brendan Toomey said Rock UK was one of the major stakeholders in the Council’s new Merthyr Tydfil Destination Management Plan, aimed at enhancing the experiences of visitors while also encouraging the use of such facilities by more local residents.
“The redevelopment at Rock UK Summit Centre will certainly enhance Merthyr Tydfil’s activity tourism offer and provide unique opportunities and experiences for potential visitors,” he added.
It would also act as a catalyst for some of the larger attractions in the region to work collaboratively on marketing campaigns and the offering of specific activity tourism packages to add to the 170,000 people who stayed overnight in Merthyr Tydfil during 2015.
“The redevelopment is a priority project for the Taff Bargoed area, further enhancing the valley and building on recent investment in the area including the Taff Bargoed Regeneration Programme and improvements and product development in the Park,” said Cllr Toomey.
“It is supported fully by local residents and partnerships including the Taff Bargoed Regeneration Partnership, which will support the implementation of the scheme and create linkages to local businesses where possible.”
Rock UK Chief Executive Officer John Heasman said:
“Today’s announcement will create a high quality residential centre for young people from all over the country to visit, and people who are young-at-heart too. The project will create a step-change in the sustainability of the centre and local employment prospects.
“The local community is at the heart of our vision and the new facilities will complement the existing stunning indoor climbing centre and be available for all to enjoy, transforming young lives in Wales.”
Summit Centre is one of four Rock UK centres across the country which offer activities with conference and meeting venues to schools, families, corporate and community groups, as well as courses for disadvantaged young people and volunteer programmes.
The centre is on the site of the former Trelewis Drift Mine, which closed in 1989. The Taff Bargoed Development Trust redeveloped the area in 1997, turning it into the Welsh International Climbing Centre, and began working with Rock UK in 2010.
As well as offering more than 180 climbing routes, climbing walls of up to 18 metres high and a world class manmade caving system with a waterfall inside – along with off-site mountain biking, climbing and walking – Summit Centre also runs water-based activities at Taff Bargoed Millennium Park, including open canoeing, kayaking and raft building.