A MAJOR indoor ski centre, 200 houses on a former industrial estate and a new building for a special school are some of the major developments that have made progress this year in Merthyr Tydfil.
In this piece, the Local Democracy Reporting Service looks back at some of the significant schemes that we’ve reported on in 2023 and what stage they are at.
Rhydycar West ski centre
In March, a planning application was officially submitted for the £300m plans for a “world class leisure resort” at Rhydycar West which include the UK’s largest and longest indoor ski slope.
The scheme also features an indoor tropical water park and an indoor and outdoor adventure centre with accommodation including woodland lodges and a resort hotel with sport, family and luxury spa wings as well as conferencing facilities. The hope is that the project will create around 1,500 jobs in the construction phase, and around 800 jobs once up and running.
Marvel Ltd owns the land and the plan is that the Rhydycar West project will contribute around £38.1m in a year to the economy. Those behind the scheme said the aim is to “provide a unique and unparalleled experience for visitors of all ages, making Rhydycar West a must-visit ‘all year round’ destination for both local and international tourists.”
In consultation with Cadw, the project also plans to create a heritage trail within the development boundary that would allow controlled access to the historical monuments on the site – all of which are associated with the wider industrial history of Merthyr Tydfil.
The indoor snow centre would conform to international standards and attract international competitions and events. Snowsports Cymru Wales, the national governing body, has campaigned for such a facility of this standard for a decade, those behind the project said.
They also said the planning application would be considered by Merthyr Tydfil Council and the public will have more chances to provide their feedback on the proposal.
200 houses at Dragon Park in Abercanaid
In July, the council’s planning committee approved a plan for 200 homes at Dragon Park in Abercanaid.
Of the 200 houses and flats proposed, 20 will be classed as affordable housing and the plans include associated engineering, access, and landscaping works. There will be detached, semi-detached, and terraced houses and flats from one-bedroom to five-bedroom in size with two three-storey-high apartment blocks each having nine one-bedroom units.
The main access to the site will be from the south via an upgraded existing roundabout and the report said from this roundabout a road will sweep around a “multifunctional open space” which is to be used for recreation, play, and sustainable drainage and will also introduce new habitats. At the heart of the site the layout will include an 18m-wide open space known as Central Park in the design and access statement.
A path for cyclists and pedestrians will be installed along the eastern boundary adjacent to the River Taff and through the Central Park leading to the main road that serves Abercanaid. At the northern boundary this path joins with a proposed emergency access and so provides connections to the Taff Trail and Trevithick Trail.
A number of the houses will have a single garage and further parking spaces to the front of the garages and where garages are not proposed, driveways, or rear courtyard parking will be provided. The planning report said the land is relatively flat, measures approximately 9.03 hectares, and and once formed part of the former Dragon Parc industrial site.
Planning officers recommended the committee approved the application and said: “The proposal is welcomed as it provides much-needed new housing for the county borough in a highly sustainable location. It is also noted that 10% of the housing would be affordable and thus provides an essential contribution to the housing needs of the immediate and wider locality.
“The design of the houses, layout of the site, open space provision, and strategic landscaping would result in a quality place that is well connected to the existing community. There is no objection to this application on flood risk grounds and the proposal is also acceptable in terms of its impact on highway and pedestrian safety, residential amenity, and ecology. As such it complies with the relevant policies of the LDP.”
New special school building
In March, plans for a new multi-million pound building for Merthyr Tydfil’s only special school received the support of councillors as they voted to include it in its programme of school investment.
The council report said an area of suitable size had been highlighted as part of the Heartlands site which would also support the council’s plans to develop affordable housing and regenerate the site.
The report added that the council’s vision for the special school also includes development of the heritage building on the proposed site to potentially house a range of therapeutic, health and other services to support children with complex needs.
The estimated cost of the project would be £58.75m with £44.86m coming from Welsh Government and £13.88m from the council. It will go through the Welsh Government business case process over the next three years and construction work could start in the 2026/2027 financial year with completion by September 2028.
The council report said that Greenfield Special School is the only special school in Merthyr and the building is currently oversubscribed with 175 pupils on roll. Pupil numbers are projected to increase to more than 200 over the next three years and to around 225 longer term.
The report said: “Greenfield’s current school building is in a poor condition and its overall suitability as a teaching and learning environment is also poor, with classrooms that are small in comparison to the building bulletin guidance. The building was not designed specifically for special school demands.
“Corridors in the school are narrow which impacts on pupils with large electric wheelchairs and there is little space available for the storage of specialist equipment such as standing frames. There is therefore a strong case for change to create a new build special school for Greenfield, fit to deliver education in a suitable environment and accommodate the needs of ALN pupils in Merthyr requiring special school provision over the long-term.”