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Dare Valley Country Park benefits from £1.5m funding package

Ann Crimmings at Dare Valley Country Park. Credit: RCT Council

Despite the Coronavirus national emergency, exciting improvements are continuing to be progressed at the Dare Valley Country Park – as the Council continues to deliver its vision for the popular Discovery Gateway site. 

Earlier this week, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Leisure and Heritage Services, Councillor Ann Crimmings, had a site visit to see the progress being made on a number of the projects being delivered at the Dare Valley Country Park, which are being funded by a combination of Welsh Government funding through the Valleys Regional Park programme (£1,000,000), and also the Council’s own capital investment (£500,000).

The overall £1.5m package will see improvements made to a number of areas and facilities within the Park, including:

  • An increase in play provision, following a review of existing facilities. It will include modern accessible equipment and 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 and finished with a variety of surface materials.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Councillor Ann Crimmings, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Leisure and Heritage Services, said: “The Dare Valley Country Park is one of the County Borough’s most beautiful and popular locations – with visitors coming from across RCT and beyond to experience the breath-taking views and wonderful surrounds that the Park offers.

“A number of exciting projects are in the process of being delivered as part of the Valleys Regional Park programme, which has been complemented by additional Council investment, and will greatly improve the offer of the Park to residents and visitors alike.

“It’s really exciting to see some of these projects taking shape already, and I look forward to a time where our residents and visitors can make full use of the Park.  The Pump Tracks will be a fantastic addition to the Park’s offer, along with the family-friendly bike trails; whilst the play area improvements are in the final stages of completion and we will shortly be in a position to provide details on opening the facility to the public.

“The play area will house a bespoke wooden climbing unit, a wheelchair accessible roundabout and a Flying Fox, amongst others, and will cater for a range of ages and abilities and I am sure that these improvements will be welcomed by families with children who visit the Park.”

Earlier this week, the Council announced that 15 play areas would be benefiting from £500,000 capital investment in the 2020/21 financial year, taking the overall investment in this area to over £4m and meaning that over 125 of the approximately 200 facilities that the Council has ownership of will have been improved by the end of this year.