Barry Island Butlin's camp regeneration boost
Gavin and Stacey found love there, and now the seaside town where the hit TV comedy was set is being given a facelift.
The former Butlin's holiday camp at Barry Island, which closed 17 years ago, will be transformed into a community venue.
Work on the project's first phase worth £692,000 is to start immediately.
Improvements in other areas, including the eastern promenade, are also being looked at to boost tourism.
The Butlins holiday camp on Barry Island opened in 1966, but it shut in 1996.
The island has been popular with tourists for about 150 years. At its peak in 1934, 400,000 people visited during the August bank holiday weekend.
But Barry Island gained new fame when it featured in the BBC comedy Gavin and Stacey, the story of the romance between a Barry girl and an Essex boy.
The comedy, written by and starring Ruth Jones and James Corden, as friends of Gavin and Stacey, ran for three series and put the resort on the map for a new generation.
Butlin's was one of its most famous landmarks and drew in visitors for years, but it was sold in the late 1980s to another company before it closed for good.
Despite having houses developed on part of the site, the Nell's Point headland has remained largely undeveloped since the holiday camp was demolished in 1997.
The Welsh government, which is funding the first stage of the project, said the regeneration work would create an "events space" to allow the Vale of Glamorgan council and local community to host events.
A temporary car park for residents and visitors will also be constructed as part of the scheme.
"This first phase of works marks the start of redeveloping the former Butlin's site on Barry island which is integral to the overall regeneration of Barry," said Huw Lewis, the Minister for Regeneration.
"It will have far-reaching benefits for the whole of Barry and the surrounding area by providing additional facilities for residents and day visitors.
Since 2010, the Welsh government said it had committed £6.5m towards 35 projects in Barry.
"The work on Nell's Point is the first phase response to bringing the site back into use but the real ambition here it to attract private sector investment for a multi use all weather attraction to the site," Mr Lewis added.
"Barry has a great deal to offer in terms of 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 and the Welsh government is helping to ensure both residents and visitors get the most out of the area's resources."
Mike Heffernan, chairman of the Barry Island Historical Group, said it would support any effort to develop the site.
"Butlin's was there for over 30 years so it is part of our heritage," he said.
"It's now obviously gone. But it's a site in a prime location that we think should be developed for tourism."
Barry Regeneration Board has also been asked to explore a number of other improvement schemes. They are:
- Improvements to eastern promenade and eastern pavilion;
- Improvements to the Harbour Road causeway - gateway entrance into the island;
- A tourist scheme for Maslin Park;
- A new street furniture proposal and a public arts strategy.
Vale of Glamorgan council cabinet member for regeneration, innovation, planning and transportation and chair of Barry Regeneration Board, Lis Burnett, said: "We're delighted with the support Barry is receiving from the Welsh government and look forward to seeing work start on the first of the new initiatives to regenerate the island."