I have been appointed as a director of a new community development company which is being created to transform the future of Barry Island. The social enterprise is bringing together local residents, businessmen and the Island’s award winning primary school to turn a derelict seaside site into a centre of excellence for activity tourism and education.
The not-for-profit group called @BarryIsland aims to secure a world-class development to transform the image of the seaside resort by developing proposals to create a hub of year-round, all-weather attractions to provide sustainable jobs and recreational opportunities.
@BarryIsland proposals include the building of a new ‘Ysgol Y Mor’ – a school of the sea, similar to successful education centres in Brittany and Anglesey, which makes full use of the seaside location in its curriculum both for its own pupils and for visiting schools from all over the UK.
The school is intended to occupy just 2 acres of the 11 acre site, with plans for visitor attractions, such as a sea life centre, tourist accommodation, leisure and community facilities.
Local community groups are concerned that the Nells Point site, currently owned by the Vale of Glamorgan Council will be sold to the highest bidder to fund the building of a new school elsewhere in the Vale, at Penarth, or be turned into a caravan park, with a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to transform the image and prospects of Barry being lost. The Vale Council has been marketing the site for several years, since the holiday camp closed in 1998, without success.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity. It is Barry’s last chance to create an iconic attraction on the Island. It would be heartbreaking to see the site wasted on a third class development. But we can’t rely on others to aim high for the Island, the community has to step and up take a lead” said Howard Metcalfe, the Chair of the new non-for-profit company.
The first project for the group is the rebuilding of Barry Island’s tidal paddling pool in Whitmore Bay.
Fellow directors include Howard Metcalfe a local businessman and Commodore of Barry Yacht Club, along with fellow directors Lee Waters, National Director of the sustainable transport charity Sustrans – and also Chair of Governors at Barry Island Primary School – and Janet Hayward and Ty Golding, headteacher and deputy headteacher at the school.
The new partnership intends to submit its outline plans to the planning authority, the Vale of Glamorgan Council in the New Year.
It is planning to hold a series of consultation events in the near future inviting everyone in Barry to submit their ideas for consideration in the final plans to ensure the development reflects the interest of local people.
Commenting on the creation of the new community interest company Howard Metcalfe added: “We are determined that this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is not squandered where we have a realistic, viable, and sustainable plan to create a world-class development. If we get this right, we can transform Barry Island and we hope the Vale Council will recognise the potential of working with us to create a better future.”