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Park upkeep costs soar to £2.8 million
RENOVATING a 19th century conservatory saw the upkeep cost of Tatton Park soaring to £2.8 million in the 2011/12 financial year, according to figures released by Cheshire East Council.
The authority is currently creating an ambitious project for the estate, entitled ‘Tatton Vision’, which will see the park develop its visitor activities over the next five years by increasing the attractions on offer.
The headline development has been the proposed BeWILDerwood adventure playground, but the plans also include the development of the stableyard area, an overhaul of Tatton Farm, improvement of the conferencing and banquet facilities and building on current activities, such as the creation of themed gardens.
Figures released after a Freedom of Information request show while the operating cost for the council reduced to £617,000 last year – down £306,000 from the year before – the net expenditure for the park increased by more than £500,000.
In 2010/11 the figure for net expenditure was £2,289,000, but that increased to £2,803,000 last year.
The net operating cost of the park has dropped over the past four years – despite inflation – from £773,000 in 2008/09 to £617,000 last year.
A Cheshire East Council spokesperson told the Guardian the increase in the net expenditure was down to the repair and refurbishment of the 19th century conservatory on the estate.
“There was a significant one-off capital expenditure for the 2011/12 year as a result of the repair and refurbishment of the historic conservatory,” he said.
“This part of the estate dates back to 1818, and thanks to the refurbishment it is now open to visitors again after being closed for two years.
“Apart from opening up this magnificent building to the public again, we are obliged to maintain and repair certain parts of the estate with listed building status, including the conservatory, under the terms of the lease with the National Trust we have inherited.
“The important figure for people to be aware of is that Tatton’s operating budget continues to reduce year-on-year whilst offering an increased and more varied programme of events.”