Cable-car plan could see city tourism in full swing.
VISITORS to Swansea could soon be taking to the skies if the latest ambitious plans for the city are fulfilled.
Early exploratory talks have been held that could lead to cable cars and a toboggan slide taking many thousands of people up and down the city's Kilvey Hill.
A high-speed zip-wire ride, as well as a visitor centre, a restaurant and a viewing platform on the top of Kilvey Hill could also be introduced.
Kilvey Hill - which stands 633ft high (193m) - overlooks the city's river Tawe.
Swansea Council has held preliminary discussions with a company that could potentially see the cablecar technology and the other new facilities being introduced there in coming years.
The cable-car system could run from the Hafod Morfa Copperworks site, opposite the Liberty Stadium, to the top of Kilvey Hill.
The authority has been given a first-round pass by the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant of PS3.75m that could see Penderyn Distillery expand its business into Swansea with a new distillery and visitor centre at the former Hafod Morfa Copperworks site.
The council is now working with partners, including Penderyn and Swansea University, to put a far more detailed bid together as it looks to secure the funding and realise the ambition for the site.
If the Kilvey Hill scheme goes ahead it would be funded entirely by private money rather than by the council.
While cable cars are often only associated with ski destinations and mountainous resorts, the transportation method has been popping up on city skylines around the world.
The cable car is seen as a way of helping to connect different parts of a city and a tourist attraction.
The London Emirates Air Line was opened in the summer of 2012, a month before the Olympics. Thirtysix gondolas, with a maximum capacity of 10 people, can carry 2,500 people an hour. It was reported the cost of the project was PS60m.
In 2015 the Cardiff Business Council put forward the idea of a cable car linking Cardiff Central station with Penarth. The PS100m scheme would have been able to carry as many as 2,500 passengers every hour along a five-mile route, according to a feasibility study done at the time.
And earlier this year a plan for a cable car linking a new development in Bath to the city centre was put out for consultation, but due to negative feedback the plan was shelved last week. The plans for a Swansea cable car have been around for a number of years but senior representatives from the as yet unnamed company behind the plans were in Swansea yesterday to visit Kilvey Hill and meet key figures from the city's political, cultural and business communities.
Swansea Council leader Rob Stewart said: "The top of Kilvey Hill enjoys panoramic views over Swansea city centre, SA1, Swansea Marina, the Liberty Stadium, Swansea Bay and many other parts of the city but it's a hugely under-used resource.
"Our discussions with the company are at a very early, exploratory stage, with no decisions having been made, but they're looking to establish a new facility in Europe and Swansea has scored very highly in an initial survey of the area.
"With the opportunity for cable cars, toboggan slide runs, a zip-wire ride, a visitor centre, a restaurant and a viewing platform, this type of scheme could transform Kilvey Hill and boost our visitor economy.
"Any scheme of this nature in future would be funded entirely by private money - not by the council - but if these plans are realised then it would add to the ongoing regeneration of the river Tawe corridor, which could also include Penderyn Distillery - an iconic Welsh whisky brand - expanding their business into Swansea at the former Hafod Morfa Copperworks site."
With support from the Welsh Government, Cadw and European funds, progress on the copperworks site has included clearing vegetation, stabilising buildings at risk, improving access for visitors, community archaeology fieldwork, new pathways, an audiovisual trail and new information panels.
<B An artist's impression of how the new cablecar above Swansea could look Chris Pyke