Rhondda Cynon Taf start preparing the ground at Ynysangharad War Memorial Park for the 2024 National Eisteddfod
A council leader has warned his local authority will get to a point where it will only do what it legally has to.
Andrew Morgan, leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf council, said the council will have to trim back and “ultimately only do statutory things”?
Thank you to everyone who joined the recent engagement sessions for the green events space at Ynysangharad War Memorial Park. The Council received lots of positive responses – and some common themes of discussion, and details about the next steps, are summarised below.
As approved by Cabinet in May 2023, the Council will revitalise the unused area of the park that was formerly a pitch-and-putt golf course and later a footgolf course. The area’s current condition and undulating surface has little value for alternative use. The upcoming scheme will flatten the area’s upper plateau to create a dedicated green space that is suitable to hold events and activities.
The park already hosts a number of large events that each attract thousands of visitors, such as Big Welsh Bite, Parti Ponty and the Teddy Bear’s Picnic. In addition, 2024 will see the National Eisteddfod of Wales come to Rhondda Cynon Taf, with the park announced as the host venue for the Maes.
The Council recently hosted two engagement sessions at Canolfan Calon Taf on August 25 and August 29, where local residents and groups were invited to meet with officers to find out more about the plans and to ask any questions.
Common themes and questions from the engagement sessions
The feedback that officers received was largely in support of the project, with residents able to see the benefits of creating a usable space in a family-friendly area. The Friends of Ynysangharad War Memorial Park group was among the local groups to attend, and indicated its support for the project.
While the space will be an asset for some of the large events that the park hosts, residents raised some questions about who else will be able to use it. Officers confirmed that it will be suitable for community gatherings and smaller groups that meet on a regular basis – for example, local classes.
We also received questions about the surface of the new space, and whether there will be restricted access for day-to-day use. Officers confirmed it will be soft landscaped (soiled and turfed) and open public use (no change to current arrangements). Residents will also still be able to walk their dogs in this area.
Positive feedback was received for the new path around the event space, to open the area up to all park users, including those with mobility issues. While the path is important for this reason, it should be noted that it forms a small element of the overall area, and the amount of green space will be maximised.
Some residents had understandable questions about whether any trees will be impacted by the project. Measures have been undertaken to minimise this, and none of the park’s mature trees will be impacted in any way. Five smaller trees will need to be removed, but they will be carefully relocated in the park. A sixth tree is not suitable for replanting as it has signs of disease and end of life. To compensate for this, an additional tree will be planted in the park.
Officers also reiterated that there are absolutely no plans to use the area for a car park, which is another common question that the Council has received.
Next steps to deliver the construction phase
The Council can confirm that the construction phase of the new green events space will get underway in the week commencing Monday, September 4. Site setup will be undertaken in the first few days, with the main works then taking place over the weeks ahead – for completion by the end of 2023.
Councillor Mark Norris, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Development and Prosperity, said: “I would like to thank those residents and local groups that took part in the recent engagement sessions for the new green events space at Ynysangharad War Memorial Park. It was pleasing to hear that many of the participants told officers that they were glad to have the opportunity to find out more and ask questions at this stage of the project.
“The park at the centre of Pontypridd is a much-loved venue which often hosts large events for the community such as the Big Welsh Bite, Parti Ponty and the Teddy Bear’s picnic. Next year, the park will also play host to the 2024 National Eisteddfod of Wales, and we are looking forward to welcoming the historic and prestigious event to the County Borough.
“Establishing a formal green space would not only add to the park’s offer as an events venue, but also provide smaller local groups with a place to meet on a regular basis. It would also help reduce the disruption to everyday park users when larger events are being held.
“I was pleased that the public’s feedback to officers was very positive overall, and that the two local sessions gave an important opportunity to provide answers to residents’ questions. For example, officers could reassure that the space will remain open to all with no change of use for dog walkers – while they could also convey our plans to maximise the green space, minimise the impact on trees, and again confirm that there are no plans to build a car park.
“Pontypridd residents, and visitors to Ynysangharad War Memorial Park, will notice the first works activity to deliver the project soon – from the first week of September. I’m looking forward to seeing the project progress over the weeks ahead, to bring this unused area of the park back into use for the community.”