Tatton theme park splits opinion

Plan for BeWILDerwood adventure park on 60ha site is backed by National Trust as others object.

RHS Flower Show Tatton Park is set to have a controversial neighbour - a children's adventure theme park that opponents say will be a blot on the medieval grade 11*-listed landscape.

The new and former head gardeners at the historic park and garden differ on whether the BeWILDerwood plan should go ahead.

Former Tatton Park head gardener Sam Youd said: "It's a waste of time. It's not something they should be doing ... but I'm a voice in the wilderness now."

His replacement, Simon Tetlow, said: "Maurice Egerton (who donated the park to the National Trust in 1958) never stipulated how the place would be financed. This will really benefit Knutsford and Tatton and is in keeping with what we're already doing. It is vital."

Tetlow suggested that BeWILDerwood would close while the flower show was on. But at last week's show, opponents to the plan erected posters arguing against the attraction.

Bure Valley Adventures, with backing from leaseholder Cheshire East Council and landowner the National Trust, has submitted planning permission for the 50ha attraction.

Save Tatton Action Group has submitted an objection to the council's planning department on the ground of misleading pre-consultation, inappropriate development on green belt land, underestimated visitor numbers, noise, impact on archaeology and cultural heritage, increase in traffic and impact on air quality and ecology.

The group claims that the development will mean the loss of ancient woodland, with at least 75 trees felled and 20ha of agricultural land turned into a car park.

The Garden History Society, English Heritage and the Campaign for the Protection for Rural England have also objected to the proposals.

Tatton Park Cheshire East Council manager Brendan Flanagan said local businesses have backed the plan.

RHS shows director Stephen Bennett said the society had "no objection to freedom of speech and the protest banners, although I hope nobody associates it with the flower show".

BeWILDerwood

The BeWILDerwood theme park in Tatton will include climbing bridges, tree houses, zip wires, a railway, a 305sq m shop, a 275sq m office, four food outlets and a 1,000-vehicle-capacity car park.

The opening of the attraction is planned for mid-2014.


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