Yorkshire Wildlife Park expansion to boost the region

Yorkshire Wildlife Park expansion to boost the region

The first phase of the expansion, which will create more than 300 jobs and provide a £50 million boost to the local economy, has been submitted to Doncaster Council.

The 150-acre expansion will improve facilities and increase the species of animals cared for at the innovative park, which is aiming to become one of the leading destinations in the UK.

Detailed reports, surveys, plans and assessments have been submitted to Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council detailing the first phase of the ambitious project on land adjacent to the current site at Branton.

This application is for the change of use of the land, including a detailed plan for a new entrance and carparks.

Further detailed applications will follow for the development of the new area which will link with the current Wildlife Park and include new animal reserves, lakes, landscaping and a visitor support hub at the new entrance with restaurants and a destination hotel.

The land use of the new area is designated as follows: general landscape and woodlands 53%, Animal areas 27%, access and carparking 14% and the supporting facilities 6%.

An economic impact study compiled for the application revealed nearly 1500 extra indirect jobs in the regional supply chain in addition to the extra 300 full time posts directly attributable to the park, doubling its overall workforce. 

The work, if granted full approval, would take two years to complete.

 John Minion, CEO of the park, said: “This is significant investment and a step change for Yorkshire Wildlife Park.”

“We have been working hard to create an expansion that is in keeping with the ethos of the Park and is an asset for local people to enjoy and benefit from.

“We have consulted with experts on the environmental, ecological, transport and business impact. We believe that it will bring great benefit to the area.”

The new land will enable a natural expansion of the existing park and a new access from Hurst Lane, which will benefit from the second phase of the Great Yorkshire Way road scheme, leading from the motorway network to Doncaster Sheffield Airport.

An external agency was engaged to carry out consultation with residents in the area which received a 78.3% positive response in feedback.

The park’s planning team and senior management have worked closely with Doncaster Council to ensure the scheme meets local needs.

Director Cheryl Williams said: "This could also be a game-changing development for Doncaster as a UK destination.

“Leisure has become a key part of the Doncaster story. Our development is located close to Doncaster Sheffield Airport, Doncaster Racecourse and the new proposed PGA Golf course at Rossington.

“This will provide a critical mass of world-class tourist attractions and bring an international audience to Doncaster."

Sir Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “This is a very exciting development for the team at Yorkshire Wildlife Park who have done a fantastic job developing the attraction since it opened in 2009.

“This expansion will enable more conservation work and protection of endangered species, and I have no doubt visitors to the park will benefit greatly from these development plans.”

The Mayor of Doncaster Ros Jones said “The Yorkshire Wildlife Park is a fantastic success story and a great asset for Doncaster.

“It offers a superb visitor experience, delivers valuable conservation work, and provides hundreds of jobs and a multi-million-pound contribution to our economy.

“I welcome these exciting expansion plans, which are a testament to the hard work of everyone at YWP, and I am sure they will see the park go from strength to strength.”

Yorkshire Wildlife Park is currently home to 400 animals from 80 different species, was opened in 2009 and has built on its popularity every year, attracting a record 761,000 visitors in 2016.

Since opening, the Park has invested £14.8m in its development and one of the leading attractions in the UK.

The expansion will also boost the park’s potential to build its educational offer which attracted more than 80,000 school children last year with 33,000 attending sessions delivered by YWP’s education team.