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£1m boost for outdoor learning centres
5:43pm Wednesday 30th January 2013 in News
Three Council-owned outdoor learning centres are being modernised as part of a £1 million investment plan to attract more visitors.
Bradford Council owns the three centres – Nell Bank in Ilkley, Ingleborough Hall in Clapham and Buckden House in Upper Wharfedale – which are used by local schools for day trips and residential stays.
They offer adventurous activities such as caving, rock climbing and abseiling, as well as lessons on the natural environment.
But the outdated centres have been failing to attract visitors, with occupancy being as low as 51 per cent at Buckden House in 2011-2012.
The Bradford Schools Forum, which makes recommendations on how the district’s school grant should be spent, is funding a £1 million package of improvements.
The aim is to increase the numbers of visitors so the centres can fund themselves without the need for subsidies.
A Council report has now revealed how this money will be spent.
In December, a team of headteachers, council officers and a quantity surveyor visited Buckden House and Ingleborough Hall to decide what work needed carrying out.
According to the report, the team decided it was necessary to ‘extend washing and toileting facilities for visitors making them acceptable for use in the 21st century’.
The centres would also need upgraded staff accommodation, individual showers and better ICT facilities, the report said.
At Nell Bank, a new modular building will be added so two primary classes can attend at the same time. Work is due to start in the Easter holidays.
The work will cost £400,000 at Ingleborough Hall, £200,000 at Buckden House and £400,000 at Nell Bank.
A marketing manager has also been appointed to generate new business and the centres are considering putting on open days for teachers to experience some of the activities offered at the centres.
An update on the plan will go before Bradford Council’s overview and scrutiny committee for children’s services at 5.30pm on Tuesday at City Hall, Bradford.
Committee members will be asked for their views on progress so far