Sky is the limit with major step forward for cable car plan
THE opening of one of the most eye-catching tourist attractions in the UK that would include a cable car ride, toboggan rides, zip wire rides and a restaurant and event venue on Kilvey Hill in Swansea has taken a major step forward.
Board directors of New Zealand-based Skyline Enterprises have given a green light for the company to start detailed design and legal discussions for an attraction there that would also include a panoramic viewing platform with views across Swansea Bay.
Senior representatives from Skyline Enterprises will now work closely with Swansea Council on terms for an agreement that will go to the council's cabinet and Skyline's board of directors for approval.
The council will also continue to liaise with other landowners at Kilvey Hill and other relevant parties to help secure an agreement.
Once the agreement is in place, Skyline Enterprises will start work on a major application for planning approval. The scheme would be funded entirely by private money - with no funding required from council taxpayers.
Cllr Robert Francis-Davies, Swansea Council's Cabinet Member for Culture, Tourism and Major Projects, said: "This is great news for Swansea, for Swansea's tourism industry and for Wales.
"Thanks to a 'Team Swansea' approach and the backing of a number of local businesses who have been supportive of the Skyline proposal, we were able to convey to Skyline Enterprises our enthusiastic support for the scheme during their recent visit.
"This decision is a great vote of confidence in Swansea as a tourist destination and builds on the great work being done through the City Deal and our bid to be the UK's City of Culture in 2021."
Skyline Enterprises run two world class resorts featuring cable car rides and other attractions in New Zealand, as well as luge rides in Canada, South Korea and Singapore. The cable car attraction set for Swansea would be the company's first outside New Zealand.
Representatives of the company had already been to Swansea twice in recent months to check out the potential of turning Kilvey Hill into a tourism hotspot, capable of attracting tens of thousands of visitors a year.
The latest visit included meetings with Swansea Council and major local businesses at the Liberty Stadium to advance Swansea's case for the attraction, which would further build on plans to regenerate the River Tawe corridor.
Cllr Rob Stewart, Swansea Council Leader, said: "Kilvey Hill, standing 193 metres tall, enjoys spectacular views over Swansea Bay, the marina, SA1, the Liberty Stadium and the historic Hafod Morfa Copperworks site. It's been an underused resource, and has huge potential to be transformed into a fun visitor destination for local people and hundreds of thousands of visitors a year.
"We were determined to do all we could to help bring this project to Swansea because it would also attract additional investment and benefit local businesses by generating more spending and supply chain opportunities."
Geoff McDonald, Skyline Enterprises Chief Executive, said: "Skyline Enterprises is very excited about the potential opportunity to partner with the Swansea community to create what we believe will be a significant and vibrant attraction for the area. We are encouraged by the enthusiasm and interest in our gondola and luge operation, and look forward to on-going discussions."
Cllr Francis-Davies added: "There is more work to do, including a detailed planning application, but if these hugely exciting plans are realised, then it would add to the on-going regeneration of the River Tawe corridor. This could also include Penderyn Distillery - an iconic Welsh whisky brand - expanding their business into Swansea at the former Hafod Morfa copperworks site if a stage two bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for funding is successful."
The cable car attraction would add to the work Swansea Council and Swansea University are continuing to do to breathe new life into the historic Hafod Morfa Copperworks site.
With support from the Welsh Government, Cadw and European funds, progress on site has included clearing vegetation, stabilising buildings at risk, improving access for visitors, community archaeology fieldwork, new pathways, an audio visual trail and new information panels.
Swansea and four other shortlisted contenders are due to find out who has been crowned UK City of Culture 2021 next month.