Climbing centre at Peterborough’s Ferry Meadows gets higher as plans take step forward

An Olympic-standard climbing wall planned for a waterside site in Peterborough will be three metres taller than originally envisaged.

Thursday, 7th March 2019, 9:44 am
Updated Thursday, 7th March 2019, 10:45 am
The planned climbing activity centre from Gunwade Lake.

The towering activity centre, which has been earmarked for a site on the edge of Gunwade Lake in the heart of the 1,725 acre Ferry Meadows, was already expected to be one of the tallest structures in the city when the idea was first unveiled last November.

But plans just submitted to Peterborough City Council show park manager, Nene Park, is seeking approval for a climbing centre three metres higher than originally proposed.

At 34.25 metres high it will be slightly taller than Apex House which stands at 34 metres.

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The approach to the climbing walls.

Matthew Bradbury, chief executive of Nene Park, said “We have increased the height of the climbing walls, but we have also made the structure slimmer.

“The aim is to improve the appearance of the structure. I think it looks more like a church spire.

“We feel the key element is the aspirational nature of this for Peterborough, both in its blend of activity and its architecture.”

The Lakeside Activity Centre, which will be England’s only Olympic-grade climbing walls, has been the subject of a community consultation organised by Nene Park ahead of the submission of a formal planning application to the council.

This cutaway image shows the interior of the climbing walls.

Nene Park’s head of development Andrew MacDermott said that 300 representations had been received.

He said 65 per cent of the comments had been entirely supportive, while five per cent had been in favour with some doubts, and the remainder did not support the proposed development.

Mr Bradbury said: “I think there have been some misconceptions around the centre’s Olympic standard.

“It does not mean the centre will be solely for elite climbers.

The cafe at the planned activity centre.

“Our intention is for the centre to be inclusive and accessible for everyone - families, children and schools and colleges.

“It will also be a home for para-climbing.”

The total investment is expected to be £8 million with the costs met through grants, company sponsorship and Nene Park

Hopes the centre would open before the Tokyo Olympics, where climbing will feature for the first time, have been quashed.

Mr Bradbury said: “Subject to planning approval, we anticipate being open late next year.”

The innovative climbing walls planned for Peterborough’s Ferry Meadows is expected to provide many economic benefits.

It will attract hundreds of climbers and visitors from across the country, and is expected to add £2 million a year to the local economy.

Much of this will be in revenue from visitors for local businesses from B&Bs, hotels to restaurants and even filling stations. In addition, the centre will create 31 jobs .

It will add to the growing number of quality attractions within Peterborough.

This will bring in visitors and job creating companies looking for a location attractuive to staff.

Primary features of the centre will be Lead, Speed and Bouldering and one of the country’s largest Clip ‘n’ Climb arenas for family users, a toddler play facility, an additional café and private hire facilities.

There will be outdoor climbing walls, offering opportunities to climb in the open air and, in the future, a tree top experience accessed from the building.

Nene Park chief executive Matthew Bradbury said: “Our intention is to provide year-round facilities, ensuring we can maintain the future of Nene Park for generations.”

“We also anticipate the Olympic standard climbing walls will help us achieve a national profile, and believe the activity centre will put Peterboroughfirmly on the map.”