Ffos-y-Fran Fund supporting Merthyr’s premier tourism destination ambitions

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 new development is expected to boost annual visitor numbers from 14,000 to between 25,000 and 30,000.

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.

Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure Ken Skates AM helped mark the start of work by taking part in a ground-breaking ceremony on the 28th November.

As well as millions of pounds of financial and development support from both the European Regional Development Fund and Merthyr Tydfil Council, funding has also been obtained from a range of other organisations, including the Ffos-y-fran Community Fund.

Leader of MTCBC 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”.

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.”

The Summit Centre, which lies on the site of the former Trelewis Drift Mine, offers more than 180 climbing routes, climbing walls of up to 18 metres high and a world class manmade caving system with a waterfall inside. It also has off-site mountain biking, climbing and walking and runs water-based activities such as canoeing, kayaking and raft building at the Taff Bargoed Millennium Park.

The centre also has conference and meeting venues for schools, families, corporate and community groups, as well as courses for disadvantaged young people and volunteer programmes.