Afan Forest Park Visitor Experience Masterplan

Afan Forest Park MasterplanClient: Natural Resources Wales
Afan Forest Park is recognised as an established destination for mountain biking within the UK. Past investment in the area has developed and strengthened the mountain bike product across the region and investment in family friendly trails has broadened the demographic of users. PSC was appointed by Natural Resources Wales and partners to develop the recreation offer and wider tourism product in Afan Forest Park. This involved identifying and testing opportunities for outdoor product development, which would improve the visitor destination to derive more social and economic benefits locally. A key objective was to broaden the appeal of the Forest Park with a particular focus on ‘family friendly’ recreation and local usage. The visitor experience masterplan needed to set out a ‘future direction’ of travel to inform all future management decisions within the forest park and include a robust governance structure to ensure future delivery of the masterplan. A significant attraction of the Afan Forest Park is its setting in semi-natural environment. Afan Forest Park provides important habitat and also offers visitors the opportunity to re-connect with nature and at the same time it is a working ‘forest’ with timber production.

Our work included: Reviewing existing provision of ‘visitor facilities’ within Afan Forest Park and the current ‘performance’ of the forest park; an assessment of the strategic context to ensure future initiatives and project outcomes align with key strategic policies to support the case for investment; a market analysis with a focus on a review of the residential population living within specific drivetime catchments; the tourism market; wider activity sector and mountain biking. Latterly, we had to take into account the impact of COVID (which helped the forest park to engage with new audiences); identifying the wider competitive landscape, to help ensure that the new and enhance offer at the forest park did not duplicate the existing facilities; an assessment of different case examples to inform the development of the masterplan (learning from best practice); extensive consultation with stakeholders and interested parties (workshops, meetings, etc) and an online survey with visitors which generated over 800 responses was carried out. This helped to ensure that the masterplan responded to the needs of visitors and stakeholders; preparation of a development action plan which set out a range of costed interventions for Afan Forest Park. It was critical to ensure a sympathetic integration of any new facilities / services within the existing park and its sensitive ecosystem; and advice on future governance and delivery options.

How can we help?
If have any questions about developing a visitor experience masterplan for a visitor site please don’t hesitate to call Richard Linington on 07866 742628 or email