Rhondda Cynon Taf Council has announced its vision for Dare Valley Country Park which will broaden the popular landmark’s offer – utilising significant £900,000 funding from the Valleys Taskforce, via the Valleys Regional Park initiative, and an additional £500,000 funding through the #RCTinvest capital programme.
The funding will allow Dare Valley’s potential to be maximised in a number of areas – delivering economic, environmental and cultural improvements.
The Council intends for the beautiful green space to remain an important destination in its own right, while encouraging local residents and visitors to discover other exciting tourist attractions nearby – including a potential future project to bring Zip World to the Upper Cynon Valley. The improvements will also encourage and support active lifestyles, improving the health and well-being of visitors.
The Dare Valley improvements include an element of new-build works and the introduction of new facilities and activities – alongside the refurbishment, expansion and enhancement of existing amenities on site. The plans include:
- An increase in play provision, following a review of existing facilities. It will include modern equipment to cater for children with specialist mobility or sensory requirements. The improvements will encourage age and ability-appropriate play, with new apparatus reflecting the beauty of the park and encouraging physical challenge. It will maximise adult supervision and minimise the potential for anti-social behaviour.
- A bike hire service, located opposite the main visitor car park. The design will make use of converted shipping containers designed to reflect the outdoor nature of the park, while a large number of secure cycle racks will encourage bike hire and provide a secure location for visitors to store their own bikes. A dedicated cycle lane and footpath will be created between the main car park and the hire station.
- A series of family-friendly bike trails, to build on local offerings from other providers like Bike Park Wales. The trails will cater for the family market and set up as a ‘green’ (entry level) category. They will be located on the north-facing slope of Penrhiwllech Mountain, opposite the Visitor Centre. It will be accessible via an uplift service, which will place cyclists at the highest point (100m) of the trails. This will be located next to the bike hire station and benefit from a mini-bus parking zone. The existing vehicular access route running part way up the northern slope will be lengthened and resurfaced. The trails will be expanded in the future to cater for more experienced riders.
- Four pump tracks, each with its own unique layout and located at different locations along the trails. They will be finished with a variety of surface materials, with one being asphalt to cater for skateboards, etc.
- Refurbishment of the Dare Valley Hotel. The independently-run hotel will initially benefit from a scheme of significant refurbishments – first through improved bathrooms (new toilets, basins, shower fittings and hot water system repairs), followed by bedroom improvements which will be redecorated in line with the new Dare Valley brand.
- Expanding current caravan/camper van pitches, to meet demand. Ground work and power hook-ups are included in the design proposals, along with refurbishment and extension of the shower block. It is proposed the family changing areas are accessed independently of the existing male/female facilities – operating as a unisex facility catering for pushchairs, wheelchairs and buggies. One of the new family changing areas will accommodate enhanced accessible features such as a ceiling-mounted hoist and adult-sized changing table. Sanitary fittings, floors and ceilings of the existing block will also be improved.
- Improved shower facilities. The lower camping tier on the northern side of the site is being redeveloped to support the bike hire station and pump track. The upper camping tier will also be improved to an equivalent standard as the existing middle camping tier.
Councillor Andrew Morgan, Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, said:
“This programme of improvements will deliver substantial upgrades to the Dare Valley Country Park, and will greatly increase the destination’s appeal to both residents and visitors.
“These works have been made possible through the total of £1.4m funding attributed to the site through the Council’s #RCTinvest capital programme and the Valleys Taskforce – through the designation of the Dare Valley Country Park as one of the Discovery Gateway sites that will form part of the wider Valleys Regional Park.
“Our intention to build on the success of the Country Park is clear, and I am confident that this significant investment package will facilitate even greater use and encourage more people to explore our beautiful natural surrounds.
“Works to improve access to the Park are due to start shortly, with a footway improvement scheme and resurfacing of the carriageway”.