Rhyl water park can be 'catalyst' for town change

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Media captionThen and now: Remember the old sun centre? Well, look at it now...

Business and community leaders "expect big things" for a seaside town with the opening of a £15m indoor water park.

SC2 will welcome visitors five years after the closure of Rhyl Sun Centre, which was a major draw in its prime before repair costs forced it to shut.

It is the latest project in the town's multi-million pound regeneration and part of a wider masterplan.

Derelict properties have been flattened and two hotels, a restaurant and a pub have already opened.

Talks are also under way to change traffic flow between the town centre and the seafront to encourage visitors to extend their stay and visit other attractions.

A business group meeting last Friday was told that bus companies bring an estimated eight million visitors into Rhyl annually.

However, some do not visit beyond town centre streets because "connectivity could be better" to the seafront, according to Rhyl councillor Tony Thomas, a member of the group.

Image copyright Denbighshire County Council
Image caption The former sun centre opened in 1980 and shut in 2014

He said the new water park on the promenade was expected to draw in 200,000 new visitors after it opens on Friday, so the desire was to encourage them to explore seafront attractions and the town.

The former Rhyl Sun Centre saw 4,000 visitors a day in its heyday when it was the home of Europe's first indoor surfing pool.

In May 2016, Denbighshire council announced plans to demolish the sun centre and build its new aquatic park, saying it was the "first piece in the regeneration jigsaw" of Rhyl.

It prompted a campaign to try to save the attraction as some felt "part of their childhood was being taken away," according to Rhyl local historian Colin Jones.

"I felt glad to hear that we were getting a water park but I have reservations about the price," he said.

"I hope we are not stoking up monetary and fiscal problems for ourselves in the future."

Rhyl mayor Win Mullen-James has seen the town's fortunes wax and wane since she moved to the town in 1971 and she thinks the water park will be a positive "catalyst".

"We are hoping for great things from SC2," she said.

"It has got similar values to the sun centre but we have moved it into the 21st Century."

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