Sea school at heart of Barry Island redevelopment plan

Barry Island seafront The social enterprise aims to develop Barry Island's facilities

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Children from Barry Island could play a key role in deciding the future of the former Butlins holiday camp there.

A not-for-profit social enterprise called @Barry Island has been launched, with the head teacher of the primary school, businessmen, residents and charities on the board.

They aim to create new accommodation and attractions, with a School of The Sea at its heart.

The assembly government has allocated £9m for the area's redevelopment.

Barry Island has been a popular destination for tourists and day trippers for at least 150 years, despite the fact that it was inaccessible by road or rail until 1896.

At its peek in 1934, 400,000 people visited during the August bank holiday weekend.

Start Quote

It is Barry's last chance to create an iconic attraction on the island”

End Quote Howard Metcalfe Chair of @Barry Island

Perhaps the island is most famous for its Butlins holiday camp, opened in 1966, and which drew in visitors for the next 32 years.

Ever since Butlins' closure in 1998, the Vale of Glamorgan council have been unable to find a buyer for the site, and a number of regeneration plans have failed.

But @Barry Island says it aims to succeed by developing facilities which will serve locals and tourists and creating jobs.

Sustainable plan

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity. It is Barry's last chance to create an iconic attraction on the island," said Howard Metcalfe, the chair of the company.

"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 up and take a lead," he said.

The centrepiece of the £9m plan is a "Ysgol Y Mor" or "School of The Sea", modelled on similar successful marine-oriented schools in Brittany and on Anglesey.

As well as educating local children, the school would offer courses in the history biology and water sport of the Nells Point seafront - where Butlins once stood - to children and adults from outside the area.

While the students of Barry Island Primary are heavily involved in the design of the 'Ysgol Y Mor', @Barry Island are also welcoming thoughts and suggestions from everyone in the area.

Mr Metcalfe added, "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."

A public meeting was held on the island on Monday.

Following a consultation period, the group hope to submit their ideas to Vale of Glamorgan planners in the new year.

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