To the villagers in Cheshire surrounding Tatton Park, the thought of a huge adventure playground being housed there fills them with horror.
They have set up Save Tatton Action Group to oppose the plans to create an outdoor adventure area there, which is the subject of a planning application.
Tatton Park is a huge tourist attraction in the north west, with 750,000 visitors a year. It hosts the Royal Horticultural Society’s flower show in July and a number of large scale outdoor events throughout the year.
Bewilderwood is designed for primary school children and will include zip wires, tree houses, jungle bridges, boat trips, marsh walks and storytellings. The plans have been submitted to Cheshire East council by leisure company Bure Valley Adventures.
Residents are concerned by the substantial increase in traffic would impact roads around the region.
A spokesman for the group said: “In complying with the ‘Disneyfication’ of Tatton Park, the National Trust has disregarded the express wishes of Lord Egerton in that ‘this place of historic interest and natural beauty, be permanently preserved for the benefit of the nation’ for the hard cash option.
“It’s director general’s vision in the Trust Annual Report 2010/11 clearly contradicts the current actions of the trust, ‘we will never turn our outdoor places into giant adventure playgrounds’. “
Heather Clawson of Mobberley, which is close to where the attraction will be built, said:
“All those who live on the east side of Tatton Park will be blighted by a continual noise, with children screaming and playing, within the theme park, not to mention the addition of loud speakers planned for storytelling sessions.
“I dread to think how loud they will have to be in order for visitors to hear over the noise of the planes on the flightpath.”
STAG is trying to raise funds from within the community to get professional, technical and legal help. They fear traffic within and outside the park will increase dramatically and it will affect the tranquility of the park for cyclists and walkers.
They also claim there will be a loss of trees as they are felled and replaced by treehouses and decked walkways. “These habitats, once lost, are lost forever,” the group warn.
The group is holding an informal meeting in the Rajar building, Mobberley, at 7pm on Thursday 3 May. All views will be submitted to the council ahead of the planning meeting.
A decision on the plans will be made at the Strategic Planning Board of Cheshire East Council on June 20.
On its website, Bewilderwood is described as “an award winning outdoor adventure attraction for families” set in the Broads National Park in Hoveton.
They say they have been working with Cheshire East council and a team of consultants to develop a planning application to bring the concept to Tatton Park.
Cheshire East council said Bewilderwood is on a previously inaccessible site and a few residents have formed the STAG group.
A spokesperson described it as “an exciting project” that offers visitors a chance to engage with the natural environment of Tatton in a new way. The company will use local natural resources in construction retaining the wild wood as part of the design. “Any comparisons with Disneyland, or other theme parks, are wide of the mark.” The spokesperson said there had been a lot of positive interest but if residents have concerns, there’s an opportunity to register them as part of the planning consultation.
“Tatton Park is already the premier major attraction in the region with more than 800,000 visitors a year,” councillor Jamie Macrae, Cheshire East Council Cabinet member with responsibility for prosperity, has said.
“Our vision is to realise its full potential at national level and raise the visitor to over 1m visitors a year.”
The Norfolk project, which opened five years ago, was devised by two businessmen Tom Blofeld and Simon Egan.