Wales plans huge snowsports centre

11th September 2017, by Abi Butcher

Chill Factore in Manchester, at 180m, is currently the UK's longest ski slope

Chill Factore in Manchester, at 180m, is currently the UK's longest ski slope

South Wales could be home to one of Europe’s longest indoor ski slopes if a plan to redevelop a former coalmining site in Merthyr go ahead.

Plans have been unveiled for a 500m-long ski slope as part of a huge leisure centre at the 575-acre site at Rhydycar West. Currently, the longest indoor ski slope in the UK is at Chill Factore in Manchester — at 180m.

The company behind the ambitious project, Marvel, hopes the ski slope will become a national centre of snowsports excellence in Wales, and is working with Snowsport Cymru Wales on the plans to produce a future year-round training base for the Team GB ski and snowboard team.

Robin Kellen, chief executive of Snowsport Cymru Wales, said: “We have a great opportunity to use our natural resources in Wales to develop an indoor ski and snowboard facility that would provide year-round training facilities for Olympic athletes as well as local enthusiasts, to create opportunities for increasing participation in snowsports as well as developing a unique weather-proofed tourism attraction.

“Snowsport Cymru Wales has worked closely with the project development team for some time now to make sure we meet the long-term needs of the sport and ensure a sustainable business model for this project.”

Dan Hunt, performance director of British Ski and Snowboard, said: “I am very excited by the prospect of having a national training centre of excellence for snowsports in Wales.
“We would really welcome the chance to be able to have access to more home-based training for our national team as well as the fantastic opportunities this facility would present in developing the next crop of talented athletes.”

The plans also include the largest indoor water park in the UK, an indoor bike and skate part, an equestrian centre, an adventure park and zipline, log cabins and yurt accommodation. Two hotels are also planned among the complex, with spa and conference facilities, as well as retail and restaurant units.

The former coalmining site — which includes a mountain — has been closed to the public for some time. It was bought in 2013 by Marvel, which says the scheme would only use around 30% of the acreage — with the remaining 400 aces to be used for trails and low-level cabins. An informal public consultation exercise with the local community will begin shortly, before a formal public consultation and planning application next year.

Leigh Large of Marvel said: ““We believe our scheme’s exciting sport and adventure facilities will attract more visitors to Merthyr, and the high quality accommodation options will help keep them in the area for longer, addressing the current lack of local accommodation.
“It is important to emphasize that the overall plans for the site are still in development. We will be consulting with the local community this autumn so we can deliver the best possible scheme for Merthyr.”

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