PROPOSALS for a £3.3million development of Barry Island into 'the jewel in the crown of South Wales' have been announced as part of the final batch of Barry Regeneration Area funding.
The development would include improvements to the Eastern Promenade and Harbour Road Causeway, as well as to the Nells Point area. Footpaths around the Island would be improved, bus shelters replaced, railings and fencing refurbished, and a new toilet block installed near the Eastern shelter.
It comes after a meeting of the Regeneration Area Partnership Board on Thursday (November 29), where it was decided that the Island would be the beneficiary of the remaining Regeneration Area funding over the 2013-14 financial year.
By March, the Welsh Government will have invested £6.5m through the programme since 2010, from projects improving links between the town centre and the Waterfront, to others enhancing community spaces.
During the meeting, which was attended by Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Heritage, Huw Lewis, the Vale Council was asked to develop proposals for a portfolio of strategic investment projects to develop Barry Island, including the Nell’s Point area. This will be the focus for the investment of the £3.3m 2013/14 Barry RA budget.
Speaking after the meeting, Minister Huw Lewis said: "Barry Island has the potential to be the jewel, not just of Barry's crown, but of the whole of South Wales in terms of attracting visitors from the local area and further afield.
"Its natural assets, such as the Blue Flag beach at Whitmore Bay, Jackson's Bay and the stunning views from Nell's Point and Friar's Point are what attracted tourists to the area in the first place.
"The tourists of today however have different needs, and this is why I am pleased that the Vale Council has ambitious plans to redevelop the area into an all-year destination with indoor activities; and that the Regeneration Board has agreed to make Barry Island a priority for 2013-14.
"Redeveloping the Island will have far-reaching benefits for the whole of Barry and the surrounding area by attracting both day visitors and those from further afield who will stay longer."
The Partnership Board is also encouraging local people to get involved in 'delivering a brighter future for the town', and there will be opportunities to share ideas over the coming months.
Chair of the Board, Cllr Lis Burnett, said: "These are exciting times for Barry. "People who live or work here know what a brilliant place it is. We want to share Barry Island with the rest of the UK and the world, to create jobs and opportunities for local people.
"We look forward to discussing our ideas but more importantly, to hearing what local people, organisations and businesses would also like to do to help make Barry even better."
Marco Zeraschi, who owns Marco’s Café on Barry Island, welcomed the plans.
"Barry Island has been seriously neglected over the years and this funding will help bring it up to standard," he said.
Marco, who is also a member of the Regeneration Board, added: "When all this is developed and they have regenerated the area, it will encourage more people to come to the Island. It’s like a renaissance."
Visitors to Barry Island this week were also buoyed by the proposals.
Jackie Smith, from Gibbonsdown, said good weather always attracted people to Barry Island.
"More toilets would be a big help too," she said, adding that improvements to the footpaths would also benefit a lot of people.
Debbie Dowe, who came from Cardiff to walk her dog at the Island, said: "To me the thing that could be improved is the toilet block."
Cllr Burnett added that she hopes the plans will complement the proposed Barry Island pleasure park development.
"We are looking at a co-ordinated approach," she said.
"We want people to come to the Island even on the bad days, and not have to wait for when it's blue skies and sunshine."
It is hoped the plans will given thebe go-ahead in February, with work finishing by April 2014.