Gnoll country park in Neath gets £50k to boost visitor facilities

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Image source, Jaggery
Image caption,
People were invited to share their suggestions on how to improve the park

A country park in south Wales is to be given new benches, signs and walking routes to boost visitor numbers.

The Gnoll Estate in Neath - once home to the Mackworth coal and copper dynasty - "needs a bit of a lift", in the words of one local councillor.

Neath Port Talbot council leaders agreed £50,000 worth of funding to improve facilities.

The idea of providing visitor accommodation will also be considered as a longer-term goal.

The 200-acre (80 hectare) park features formal cascades, ponds and historic structures.

Information panels will be installed throughout the park detailing its key historic features, and the visitor centre cafe will be revamped.

Barbecue stations will be provided, as well as extra equipment for the children's play area depending on budget and space.

The possibility of creating visitor accommodation at the park in the longer term will also be explored, with use of the former ranger's cottage and the installation of 12 wooden camping pods being considered.

Image source, David Lewis
Image caption,
The park includes a recreation of an 18th Century water feature

More than 800 people responded to an online survey with suggestions including a new play area, rowing boats for hire, an open cinema, food festival and ghost tours, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

A report to the council's cabinet said offices had settled on recommendations that were "deliverable within the time frame remaining", by March 2021.

The cabinet also agreed to enter discussions with the Woodland Trust - which has bought 235 acres (95 hectares) next to the park - about improving visitor access.

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