A centre which allows Bradford children to get closer to nature has just been given the go-ahead to double the number of people making overnight visits.
Located near the River Wharfe and overlooking Ilkley Moor, Nell Bank Centre is a popular destination for school and family trips, but the group that runs it says many schools limit their visits to day trips because there is not enough overnight accommodation on site.
The Nell Bank Trust has now been granted planning permission for a 64-bed accommodation block, which it said was needed to ensure the future of the centre.
The Trust has taken over its running after a transfer by Bradford Council, which had previously run it for many years.
Before the council stopped its involvement in Nell Bank and two other outdoor learning centres – Buckden House in Upper Wharfedale and Ingleborough Hall in Clapham – it invested £1 million in them from its schools budget with the intention they could then be self-sustaining.
To achieve that at Nell Bank, the trustees felt they needed to increase the numbers of visitors who can stay there overnight as part of school residentials.
The application has been approved by the council and the trust says the decision means the centre can effectively double the number of overnight visitors. The trust has yet to set a final budget for the project, but it hopes the work will start soon and be completed by winter.
Bruce Fowler, Nell Bank manager, said: “Bradford Schools has been outstanding in supporting the Nell Bank residential project with £400,000 as part of an overall £1 million strategy to raise attainment through learning in the outdoors.
“We are fortunate to have some outstanding school leaders in Bradford – none better – who demonstrate the effectiveness that learning outside can have on the attainment of their school children.
“Nell Bank also has a national reputation for inclusion of visitors with additional physical, sensory or learning needs and additional supportive funding will take account of the needs of this disadvantaged group.
Many thousands of extra children will have memorable and valuable experiences when this project is finally completed.”