Plans for ‘a ground-breaking play village, with the largest play structure in the world’ at The Alnwick Garden have been lodged with the council.
A full planning application, for a site north of the Treehouse, was recently submitted to Northumberland County Council.
Plus, as part of its capital funding programme for 2017/18, which is set to be approved at the budget meeting on Wednesday, February 22, the council has allocated an £8.5million loan to support the development.
According to the plans, ‘the concept for Lilidorei Play Village is a small settlement set within a forest clearing, with an unearthly, quirky and magical atmosphere.
‘It will centre on the Elfic Play Structure, a large, imaginative and complex play structure, surrounded by an earth embankment.
‘This will be complemented by smaller play areas for younger children and more challenging climbing structures for older children.
‘Around the village square and clustered along forest trails will be a variety of small, earthy, wooden houses in the style of Arctic and Russian cabins, seated in the landscape. These will contain a café, a tavern, play and storytelling activities, and shops.’
There will also be a toilets block, a multi-functional Santa’s Grotto, a chapel which can be used for wedding ceremonies and a large events venue.
A supporting statement says it ‘will be a benchmark for outdoor play around the world’.
The ‘stand-alone visitor attraction will create new income streams for the charity and the community as Alnwick becomes a two-day destination rather than a single day’.
The statement adds: ‘This will make a significant contribution to regeneration plans for Northumberland and the region, especially relating to tourism and employment.’
The village will be designed to appeal to adults as well as children, while also being accessible for wheelchair users.
Council leader Grant Davey said: “Northumberland County Council is very pleased to be working in partnership with the Duchess of Northumberland on this exciting project.
“The council has contributed an £8.5million loan to the charitable trust that operates The Alnwick Garden to fund the cost of development of this world-leading visitor attraction, promising to bring economic benefits for Northumberland, from build stage onwards, and further cement the county’s position in the global tourist landscape.
“The loan will not impact on the services the council provides and once Lilidorei is open to the public and generating income, the loan will be repaid in full to the council.”
A statement provided by The Alnwick Garden said: ‘You will probably be aware that news of an exciting new development at The Alnwick Garden is under way.
‘The situation currently is that the plans are not yet finalised and we are still working, and in discussion with our partners on the project.
‘Because of this, we are unable to say or release any further information yet, but please be reassured that we will issue full details as soon as we are able.’