Works are underway in Abergwili to create the first ‘hub’ and gateway to the multi-million-pound Tywi Valley Path project.
This phase of works includes a car parking area and construction of a 3m wide path approximately 800m long just outside the entrance to the county museum.
The path follows part of the old road and will link to the internal paths of the Bishop’s Palace Gardens.
A £128,000 grant has been awarded through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.
Match-funding of £32,000 will be provided by the council.
The works are being carried out by Alun Griffiths (Construction) Ltd and will take approximately 10 weeks to complete.
It marks the start of the ambitious Tywi Valley Path which will link Carmarthen and Llandeilo using much of the old railway line and running adjacent to the majestic River Tywi with stunning views of the picturesque Tywi Valley countryside.
The Welsh Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths said: “I am pleased this investment will help expand the Tywi Valley Path and the ‘hub’ at Abergwili. This is good news for the local economy and for Wales’ thriving tourism industry.
”This is also a good example of how the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme is delivering real improvements for local communities right across Wales. Last year we announced we are fully committing the remaining £223million under the programme so more communities have the opportunity to benefit from similar projects.”
The path is expected to attract around 20,000 visitors a year, and generate between £860,000 and £2million a year in the local economy.
Executive Board Member for the Environment Cllr Hazel Evans said: “I am very excited that we have been able to start these works at Abergwili as they represent a major milestone – as the gateway to the Tywi Valley Path.
“The aim is to create a number of ‘hubs’ along the route with car parking, cycling facilities, and access to food and drink. Abergwili is the perfect location for this first hub, particularly with the Tywi Gateway Trust’s proposals for Bishop’s Park and planned improvements to the museum; together they will create a significant leisure and heritage attraction.
“The path will provide a significant boost to tourism and our local economy, as well as encourage active and sustainable travel. It also supports our aspiration to make Carmarthenshire the cycling hub of Wales.”
The path is being developed in phases; with negotiations with landowners ongoing and funding sources identified as the scheme progresses. It is expected to cost between £5 and £7million in total; and is also being part funded through the Welsh Government’s Local Transport Fund.
Planning permission has been secured for the western phase of the path between White Mill and Nantgaredig, and part of the path on an existing carriageway between Fronun and Bwlch Bach, near the concrete works in Abergwili, has already been completed. Further works are planned this year, subject to land acquisition.
There will be no parking at the entrance to the museum whilst these works take place; the recycling bins have also been temporarily relocated.