Exciting refurbishment plans for three popular city visitor attractions to be discussed by executive board

Leeds, Leeds Star

A range of improvements to three of Leeds most loved visitor attractions and the potential introduction of an aerial adventure course at a landmark city park are set to be discussed by the executive board next week.

Senior councillors will have the chance to support the proposed refurbishments of Tropical World, Lotherton Hall’s Bird Garden and Home Farm at Temple Newsam, and also give the go-ahead, subject to future discussions and planning permission, regarding the creation of a ‘Go Ape’ Activity concession within Roundhay Park at a meeting on Wednesday 19 October 2016. Not only do these proposals seek to enhance the quality of parks and green spaces, they are a creative and ambitious way for the council to be more efficient and enterprising, at a time of continuing budget reductions and generating savings to sustain services.

Following an extensive restoration of the Arnold and Majorie Ziff Tropical World last year, the attraction has cemented its standing as one of the most popular in Leeds and the wider region. With visitor numbers in 2015/2016 up to 410,000, an increase of 45% on numbers pre development, the council is keen to continue to improve the visitor experience by moving forward with the next stage of its refurbishment programme. As part of Phase 1, this will include transforming the existing ‘Creature Corner’ into an upper Aztec temple to complement the revamped aquarium and introducing new animal species into the Waterfall House. Once completed, featuring in Phase 2, which is set to begin in 2017/2018, will be a revamp of the Butterfly House, while included in Phase 3 during 2019/20 will be development and remodelling work on the Rainforest House, Desert House and Nocturnal Zone.

If approved by the executive board, plans could also move forward to develop a detailed design plan for a high ropes adventure course with company ‘Go Ape’ at Roundhay Park. As part of this work, a full assessment will be undertaken to ensure the development has no negative impact on the natural environment or public access to the park. An initial survey of 450 people at the park earlier in the year saw 81% of people support the project in principle.

The bird garden set in the much loved heritage attraction of Lotherton Hall is also set for a significant three phase re-development. Highlights include the introduction of a centrepiece ‘Coastal Zone’ in 2016/2017 which will be the home to new enclosures featuring penguins and flamingos and the creation of an ‘Africa Zone’ presenting a newly created mongoose exhibit set in a themed Masai village during 2017/2018. These will sit aside a designated ‘South American’ area in 2018/2019 which will display a range of species from the region including a group of monkeys.

While plans are at an early stage for the revamp of Home Farm at Temple Newsam, proposals put forward in the report include the development of a bespoke indoor play area for children with integral café and shop at the popular family attraction.

The redevelopment proposals at Tropical World, Lotherton Hall Bird Garden and Temple Newsam Home Farm, will build on the existing success of each site and help ensure they continue to be somewhere that offer a great experience and real value for money to visitors. This investment will not only mean that the futures of the attractions are secure, but also contribute in long-term savings to the council through the increased income.

For a full copy of the report, please see: http://democracy.leeds.gov.uk/documents/s150928/Parks%20Countryside%20Cover%20Report%20101016.pdf

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member for the environment and sustainability, said:

“We are extremely proud to offer a wide range of brilliant visitor attractions across the city, which are loved by people of all ages. It is great news that we now have the opportunity through this report to outline our exciting redevelopment plans for Tropical World, Lotherton Hall Bird Garden and Home Farm at Temple Newsam to the public, whilst also setting out proposals for a ‘Go Ape’ course at Roundhay Park.

“Due to ongoing significant reductions in government funding, we are always looking for new ways to be enterprising and the work that we plan to undertake at the three sites underlines our ongoing commitment as a council to help ensure that each attraction continues to thrive and offer visitors from the city and beyond a great experience for many years to come. Our recent investment in Tropical World which has seen visitor numbers rise by 45% compared to pre-development is a great example of what can be achieved by investing in one of our sites to raise the quality, boost income and in the long-term save money for the council. This is something that we now want to replicate again at Tropical World, Lotherton Hall Bird Garden and Home Farm, Temple Newsam.

“In regards to the potential introduction of a ‘Go Ape’ adventure course, we believe that it will become a very popular addition to Roundhay Park. As part of the proposal we will be undertaking a detailed assessment to ensure that its design and location will be appropriate and fully in keeping with the ambience and atmosphere of the award-winning park.”