PLANS for an adventure playground in Tatton Park have been thrown into doubt after Cheshire East Council decided it would not lend more than £5.5million to the developers to make it a reality. 

Bure Valley Developments Ltd received planning permission to create a 'BeWILDerwood' playground in an area of Tatton Park, close to Witchcote Wood in March 2014 as part of the 'Tatton Vision' scheme.

As part of the plans the company, which operates a BeWILDerwood in Norfolk, wanted to borrow £5.5million from Cheshire East Council to build the park.

But Cheshire East Council has this week decided that it will not lend the money to Bure Valley as part of its capital project schemes, meaning the plans for the park now depend on the developers stumping up the cash themselves.

A spokesperson for CEC told the Guardian that costs for the project had 'continued to rise, requiring the council to review the funding as part of its planning for a new capital programme'.

Cllr Peter Raynes, the council’s Cabinet member in charge of finance, said Bure Valley had asked the council for more money than originally requested. 

“As part of a review of our capital programme, Bewilderwood was considered alongside other ambitions, including the development of Alderley Park as a hub for the life sciences sector and investment in recycling technology to reduce our landfill bill," he said.

“Bure Valley Adventures Limited, the company behind Bewilderwood, asked us to lend considerably more than originally envisaged. As a result, we reconsidered the project and decided that, at present, there are other more pressing priorities for the capital we have available for investment.”

Cllr Les Gilbert, Cabinet member for localism and enforcement, said: “Throughout our work on this project, we have listened to the views of local residents.

“Despite the decision on Bewilderwood, we will continue to invest in our vision for Tatton Park. We shall ensure that any improvements are in keeping, help deliver sustainable income and help to preserve the integrity of this truly remarkable Grade 2* historic estate that is so much loved both in the UK and internationally.”

But Tom Blofeld, owner of the BeWILDerwood park in Norfolk, told the Guardian the project in Tatton was 'on hold' and he was hopeful of the council granting the money in the next round of capital project requests.

"I was told this (decision) was likely two to three months ago and told that it only applies to this current financial year," he said.

"The request for an increase in funds was known by the council around two years ago. BeWILDerwood hopes to be put forward in a subsequent year but not this year.

"The issue is that I could find the funding for the park very easily from elsewhere. But with the park being jointly owned by the National Trust and Cheshire East Council that means we can't find the funding from elsewhere.

"We have to get the funding from Cheshire East. 

"There is a strong economic argument for doing it as long as we pay back what we have to pay back.

"The project continues to live but it will not be going ahead this year - it is on hold."

The ‘Tatton Vision’ proposals are aimed at growing sustainable income; ensuring the effective management and conservation of the estate; securing funds for reinvestment; and maintaining the benefits which Tatton brings to the local economy.

Investment projects have already boosted visitor numbers and added new sources of income to help manage and conserve this great historic estate.

New ideas under consideration include further development of the Stableyard’s restaurants and shops as a ‘destination’ attraction; improved infrastructure for outdoor events, outdoor activities for families, improvement and expansion of the farm, and other accommodation options.

Work on proposals to extend and improve a number of Tatton’s existing offers will continue now that the council’s Cabinet has decided against providing a loan to a company which wanted to build a Bewilderwood outdoor attraction in woodland on the estate.

Investment to date has already reduced the operational cost to Cheshire East from around £1m to £400,000 while protecting the park’s £9m per year contribution to the local economy.

Tatton Park, which is operated by the Council on a lease from the National Trust, was named as England's 'large visitor attraction of the year' in 2014 and attracts more than 800,000 visitors annually.