Kilvey Hill, Swansea, must not be sacrificed for a vanity project 

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February 2024 update: The council has rebutted the Open Spaces Society following our objection to the disposal of space on Kilvey Hill. Read their statement and our responses here

We have objected strongly to a planning application from Swansea Skyline to convert Kilvey Hill, east of Swansea, into a massive tourism site. The society argues that the hill is being sacrificed for a vanity project. 

Photograph of one of the many unrecorded paths over Kilvey Hill; it would be destroyed by one of the luge tracks with high-speed go-carting. Photo: Amanda Leighton.

The proposed development would comprise, among other infrastructure, gondola stations, a multi-purpose visitor building, luge tracks, chairlift, skyswing, zipline and ancillary buildings. 

Kilvey Hill is a special, tranquil place, loved by local people and visitors because it offers informal public access on foot, horseback, bike, and horse-drawn carriage. 

The society, in its objection to Swansea Council, expresses its astonishment that the applicant claims that ‘existing rights of way will be retained without the need for diversion of routes’ when the applicant should know that there many paths over the hill, which are not recorded on the definitive map of rights of way because Swansea, as a former borough council, was exempt from the requirement to create a definitive map until 1983.   

The society points out that, as a result, only a fraction of the routes which are used have been recorded. The gaps in the network particularly affect horse-riders and carriage drivers, as bridleways and restricted byways have been omitted. Residents have been trying to get Swansea Council to record these routes, but Swansea pleads lack of resources as a reason for inaction. 

In addition, the society avers, much of the hill is public access land, under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, which gives people the right to walk freely over the whole area. The society criticises the developers for not acknowledging this; clearly people’s rights to roam freely here would be adversely affected by the development. 

Says our general secretary, Kate Ashbrook: ‘These proposals are out of all proportion to the quiet informality of the neighbourhood which, as recognised in the design and access statement, “is part of the draw of Kilvey Hill”.  These soulless and damaging developments will not only destroy the unrecorded public highways, but will have a devastating effect on people’s informal enjoyment of Kilvey Hill on foot and horseback and in horse-drawn carriages.   

‘If the hill is occupied by a banausic, noisy, and alien development, the public will no longer be able to relax and appreciate the unparalleled open views over Swansea Bay. This very special place, so rare in modern society, will be destroyed for ever in the interests of commercial enterprise. 

‘We fear that the council is already committed to approving this development, since it is reported to be “set to receive a £4 million investment from the Welsh Government”, and likely funding from the council itself. Yet this could so easily become another white elephant, for which insufficient funds are found for completion.   

‘Kilvey Hill is the wrong place for such a development. We have urged Swansea Council to reject the development and leave the hill alone,’ Kate concludes. 

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