PLANS for the next phase of a shared route for walkers and cyclists through the Rhondda Fach have been approved. The second phase of the Rhondda Fach active travel route will take it as far as Ferndale.
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s planning committee approved the proposal at a meeting on Thursday, November 9. The total scheme covers a distance of around 7km and will eventually connect the site of the former Maerdy Colliery with Pontygwaith to the south-east, most of which will follow the line of the former mineral railway.
The route will include links to communities, as well as schools and leisure facilities, the planning report said.
Phase one has already been completed and phase two will run from the southern side of Station Road, Maerdy, as far as a point approximately 340m to the north of the A4233 at Ffaldau Terrace.
The report said that the phase two section is currently an unsurfaced footpath which is used by walkers and cyclists which will be upgraded to a 3m wide route with a metalled surface and any surface water drained to the nearby river.
Whilst the majority of the route has a flat surface, the report said that small areas of cut and fill will be needed to keep a constant running width and also for the repair of eroded areas.
The application site is made up of an unmade or gravelled footpath between Station Road, Maerdy (opposite its junction with Institute Street) and an area to the north of Highfield Industrial Estate, Ferndale.
The path is a section of former railway line which connected Maerdy Colliery to its junction at Porth, with the line from the Rhondda Fawr valley.
The surface area of the path to which the application relates is 0.89 hectares and has a length, as the crow flies, of approximately 1.5km.
All of the footpath is outside of the settlement boundary and passes close to or crosses over, the Rhondda Fach River.
This section of the route includes two railway bridges and the path is also within a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) and a Registered Landscape of Outstanding Historic Interest in Wales.
Councillor Jayne Smith, a member of the committee who represents Ferndale and Maerdy on the council, said she’s “absolutely delighted” this has come to planning saying “it’s a huge improvement for the area” and that it will improve links to the current Ferndale school but also to the new Llyn y Forwyn school that’s being built so they can encourage residents to get more active.
Planning officers recommended approval saying: “The proposed development would result in a substantial upgrading of the track for existing and new users. In addition to the improved surface and introduction of positive drainage measures, which will make the route safer and easier to use, it will also make all-year use more practicable and contribute to community health and wellbeing.”
They also said it would not have a detrimental landscape impact and would not physically affect the amenity of the nearest neighbouring properties. There were no public objections made to the application.