PLANS to develop one of Neath Port Talbot’s most popular tourist destinations have taken a step further following the end of a consultation period.
The proposals would see investment of around £7.7m into new facilities and infrastructure at Waterfall Country Pontneddfechan, in order to “ease visitor pressures in the area”.
The area is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the borough, known for its stunning waterfalls, scenery and countryside, which draw in about 160,000 visitors each year for walking, hiking, climbing and canoeing.
It comes after a successful funding application to the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund to deliver investment at Pontneddfechan in 2022, with plans which, if approved, could see the creation of a visitor hub with overnight accommodation, along with improved toilet facilities, a new farm or community shop, and improvements to road safety and landscaping.
The proposals would also include a permanent parking solution for the area, which has been known to have issues with traffic in the past, with lines of cars dominating local roads during the busy summer months – in the form of a new car parking provision proposed for the land adjacent to the river and south of the village centre.
The proposal reads: “The Waterfall Country Pontneddfechan visitor infrastructure scheme will address significant pressures being experienced by the local community by improving access to services and supporting the visitor economy through the delivery of strategic visitor infrastructure.
“The project will provide the necessary capacity to accommodate existing visitors during peak times and manage the spread of visitors throughout the year. This will result in extending the visitor season and easing pressures during peak times of year.
“The aspiration is to mitigate negative impacts associated with visitors and create a positive visitor experience to this world class destination. In addition to proposed low key visitor accommodation, commercial ventures will capture additional visitor spending within the local area and will create employment.”
In a previous statement, Cllr Jeremy Hurley, cabinet member for climate change and economic growth said: “We are very grateful to have received this hugely significant funding offer from the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund.
“The council has made clear its aim to support the valleys and villages of Neath Port Talbot and to deliver initiatives which ensure that our local environment, culture and heritage can be enjoyed by future generations.”