A MASTER plan to develop Warrington’s Sankey Valley Park as a major regional visitor attraction and “resort” has been unveiled.
Town Hall chiefs estimate the project will be worth £27 million to the local economy as a direct result of development new attractions, facilities and improvements – and will have an economic value of £8.8 million a year from attracting new visitors.
The plan has been developed by a partnership consisting of the borough council, Gulliver’s World theme park, tourism chiefs and the North West Development Agency, which funded the master plan.
A report to the council’s executive board says Sankey Valley is one of the most important regeneration, green space and visitor economy opportunities in Warrington. With “huge potential.”
Gulliver’s World already attracts around 500,000 visitors a year and plans to expand.
Currently the park suffers from a lack of investment, vandalism and community safety issues.
But it has the historic Sankey Canal, dating from 1755, the 13th century Bewsey Old Hall, (pictured) and areas of open space and woodland which, if better managed, would be a significant leisure and landscape resource.
The master plan envisages four main areas.
A central park would be focussed around a new visitor hub next to the canal and Bewsey Old Hall and gardens.
The “Village” would be an area of family accommodation with cabins, group lodges, camping pods and touring caravsns.
The “Meadows” would provide a unique indoor role play park, farm and eco park with a “rewetted” section of canal and improved access for pedestrians and cyclists.
Finally there would be a theme park building on the existing Gulliver’s World with a new hotel and Burtonwood Airbase attraction.
It is estimated the project could create up to 248 jobs, providing employment opportunities for the nearby Dallam and Bewsey areas.
The report makes no mention of the recent controversial planning decision to allow Bewsey Old Hall to be converted into apartments, with three additional blocks of apartments in its grounds.
But campaigners are hoping the master plan may make it possible to save the hall as a community asset.