Opinion: ‘Why we believe climbing wall plans will be great addition to Ferry Meadows’

Matthew Bradbury Chief Executive of Nene Park Trust and Jon Marsden Chair of Trustees, Nene Park Trust, respond to recent criticism of plans for an activity wall and climbing centre at Peterborough’s Ferry Meadows...

Saturday, 6th March 2021, 5:00 am
An image of the proposed Climbing Walls planned for Nene Park.

Nene Park Trust’s proposals for a new indoor activity centre, including Olympic standard climbing walls, will offer the people of Peterborough, in particular families and young people, exciting new leisure and sporting opportunities.

Our plans are fully in line with the Trust’s charitable purposes and reflect the views of the public as expressed in many consultations about the future of the Park.

They are also popular – 65% of responses through our public consultation supported the plans.

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They complement the ambitious plans for the future of our city, including our expanding universities – offering improved facilities for a growing, prosperous, and more youthful city.

The Peterborough Telegraph has recently carried a number of articles and letters that contain inaccuracies about our plans.

We want to address those and help your readers share our sense of excitement about the proposals.

Lakeside Activity Centre will create an Olympic standard climbing facility; one of the country’s largest Clip ‘n Climb arenas suitable for all the family; a natural themed toddler play area; an additional café and spaces for community groups to hire.

This focus on indoor facilities will complement the many well established outdoor activities across the Park.

They will be located next to the existing Nene Outdoors watersports and activity centre, well away from the more sensitive nature-rich areas of the Park. The centre supports many of Peterborough’s aspirations – supporting the new Active Lifestyles and Sport Strategy and the wider regeneration of the city. The need for improved recreational opportunities has become even more clear throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

These additional activities will help Nene Park offer all year-round activities for the people of Peterborough.

The absence of such all-weather activities was something that the public raised as part of our masterplan consultation in 2017. Enhancing these fulfils our charitable purpose which includes the provision of leisure and recreation facilities to support the health and well-being of the people of Peterborough and the region.

The proposals should also be seen in the context of the ongoing delivery of the Trust’s masterplan, with its focus on nature recovery and improving visitor experiences.

Through our ongoing Bringing Nature Closer programme, we have already completed the restoration of our wetland meadows, created wildflower meadows, built tern rafts and bug hotels and planted new trees across the Park. We have also built a 750m boardwalk in Bluebell Woods, expanded our volunteer programme, and are developing plans to improve access for disabled visitors throughout the Park.

Our future plans for the Park, as laid out in our masterplan and our own climate emergency declaration, include aspirations to double nature, introduce sustainable farming on our Rural Estate and re-wild many areas across the Park.

The centre will be built on an existing car park, next to the Nene Outdoors watersports and activity centre.

This location is already well-served by existing infrastructure and will create a defined area for activity within the Park. The proposed centre will also have minimal impact on wildlife, green space, heritage, and the local community. Only a small area of amenity grass next to the current overflow car park will be impacted with the creation of a well-designed parking area including planting, hedging and trees.

The new car park will be permeable, no oak trees will be removed, and new trees will be planted alongside improved landscaping to improve the biodiversity in that area of the Park. The centre will be built upon a similar stilt system to the Nene Outdoors centre to avoid any flooding risks due to high water and changes in level will increase flood water storage on site, reducing impact downstream.

We maintain our passionate commitment for wildlife, and we have commissioned extensive independent reports to ensure Lakeside Activity Centre does not have a significant impact on wildlife or heritage. In fact, these reports confirmed that our plans will help to improve biodiversity in that area of the Park through the development. We have also expanded our lighting scheme to modify the whole area, including the existing Nene Outdoors building, to deliver habitat improvements.

When open, the centre is also expected to create a further 31 jobs and will help to raise vital funding towards future wildlife, recreation, cultural and educational improvements across Nene Park for years to come.

This is why we believe Lakeside Activity Centre will be a great new addition for visitors to Nene Park, and an asset for Peterborough now and in the future.