Work due to begin on Northumberland's Lilidorei play village at The Alnwick Garden and the Ad Gefrin whisky distillery in Wooler after support from Borderlands deal

Construction on two major projects in north Northumberland will be getting underway in the coming months.

By Ben O'Connell
Friday, 9th October 2020, 5:18 pm
The sign at the planned site of the Ad Gefrin distillery and visitor centre in Wooler, one of the projects to be awarded Borderlands funding.
The sign at the planned site of the Ad Gefrin distillery and visitor centre in Wooler, one of the projects to be awarded Borderlands funding.

As previously reported, the Lilidorei play village at The Alnwick Garden and the Ad Gefrin whisky distillery in Wooler are two of the initial developments to be supported through the Borderlands deal.

The heads of terms agreement for the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal was announced in July 2019 and confirmed a commitment by the UK and Scottish Governments for the financial package, with £200million to be invested on the English side and £150million in Scotland on a variety of schemes over 10 years.

The Borderlands Partnership is a collaboration between five local authorities – Carlisle, Cumbria, Dumfries and Galloway, Northumberland and Scottish Borders, which represent 10% of the UK’s landmass and an area larger than Wales.

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An artist's impression of the proposed Lilidorei play village at the Alnwick Garden.

It aims to create thousands of new job opportunities, bring millions of extra tourists to the area and unlock investment in towns.

In November 2019, Northumberland councillors agreed the governance arrangements, which include the county acting as the accountable body for the English side.

This means the county council is responsible for ‘administering the effective speed’ of the £200million English allocation and cabinet members are being asked next week to agree to add the Lilidorei and Ad Gefrin schemes to the authority’s capital programme this year, with the projects to receive £5million and £3million respectively.

Lilidorei will feature a settlement of 30 small, earthy wooden houses located in a clearing, together with an enormous play structure, consisting of 27 separately roofed structures stretched across a three-tower climbing construct.

The report to councillors, which will also be discussed by the corporate services committee on Monday, October 12, explains that the £15.5million development is expected to start on site in early 2021 and open to visitors from spring 2022.

Billed as the largest play structure of its type in the world, the attraction is forecast to pull in a total of 253,000 visitors a year, generating additional spend of £12.1million annually and supporting 224 additional gross full-time-equivalent (FTE) jobs.

Ad Gefrin will be the first legal whisky distillery in the area for 200 years and a new cultural centre will also be established, offering tours of the distillery, alongside exhibitions and displays showcasing the Anglo-Saxon golden age of Northumbrian heritage and the best of local produce.

This £10.4million scheme is set to start on site this autumn, opening for business 12 months later. It is expected to support 107.6 gross FTE jobs, attracting 49,320 visitors each year and generating spend of more than £5million from 2024.

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