Plans to create a Valleys Regional Park, bringing ‘significant local and regional social, economic and environmental benefits’, were outlined at a Merthyr Tydfil conference last week.
Speakers at the annual Merthyr Tydfil Heritage and Regeneration Conference on November 16 included Cabinet Secretary for Local Government and Public Services Alun Davies. As Chair of the Ministerial Taskforce for the South Wales Valleys, he recently announced £7m of capital funding in the draft Budget to establish the Valleys Regional Park.
Delegates learned about the vision of a network of uplands, woodlands, nature reserves, country parks, rivers, reservoirs, canals, heritage sites and attractions linking with towns and villages across the Valleys.
Among the benefits envisaged are the safeguarding and creation of jobs and training opportunities, supporting local businesses and inward investment. The Valleys Regional Park would also provide accessible high-quality green space for improved health and wellbeing and support climate change adaptation through enhancing the green infrastructure.
The conference, organised jointly by Merthyr Tydfil Heritage Forum and Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council, was held at Canolfan Soar.
Other speakers included Welsh Government Prosperity and Valleys Taskforce Branch Head Phil Lewis, who is leading on implementing the proposals for the Valleys Regional Park, working with delivery partners and the South Wales Valleys communities.
Design Commission for Wales Chief Executive Carole-Anne Davies and Design Commission for Wales and project advisor Geraint Talfan Davies give a talk on The Crucible, the Commission’s report calling for investment of at least £50m to transform Merthyr Tydfil’s Cyfarthfa Heritage Area into a heritage centre of international significance.
Carole-Anne Davies spoke about the wider context of culture and heritage projects and the potential in Merthyr Tydfil and across Wales, while Geraint Talfan Davies told delegates how they can contribute to the Crucible project through workshops at the event.
Anna Brennand, Chief Executive of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust – which runs 10 museums within the Shropshire World Heritage Site – talked about what makes a successful sustainable tourist destination and what challenges it faces.