Award-winning Yorkshire Wildlife Park has announced expansion plans that will bring £50m investment and over 300 extra jobs.
The park has secured 150 acres of land adjacent to the current site and is developing plans, which have the potential to make it one of the leading destinations in the UK.
Yorkshire Wildlife Park was founded eight years ago and has an international reputation for innovative animal reserves, contribution to conservation and keen champion of animal welfare. The concept of the walk through safari and creating an amazing visitor experience has made it one of the leading animal attractions in the UK.
The YWP team is currently working on plans for new reserves and the introduction of new species to continue the park’s conservation and welfare work.
CEO John Minion said: “We are very excited about this next stage of our life and believe it will be a game changer for Yorkshire Wildlife Park, Doncaster and the surrounding area. We have already contributed approximately £12.2 million to the local economy. This is a major investment for us and will double our workforce, creating around 300 new jobs.
“Since opening we have also been able to contribute hugely to protecting endangered species such as Amur Tigers and Leopards and African Painted Dogs and our visitors share our passion to cherish wildlife and ensure its survival. This expansion will allow us to take our conservation work to another level. But providing an excellent visitor experience is the key to what we do. "
Director Cheryl Williams added: "This could also be a game changing development for Doncaster.
"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."
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. YWP is currently working with expert consultants and Doncaster Council to develop a plan for new car parks and optimum traffic management.
A visitor hub is being designed at the new entrance, which could include a destination hotel and supporting visitor facilities including restaurants and leisure shopping. This will include the relocation of the existing Safari Village shopping area. This will attract a wider audience from around the country – but also be a wonderful resource for local people, who will be able to access the facilities before the entrance to the Wildlife Park reserves.
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.”
Chris Dungworth head of Visit Doncaster and Business Doncaster said: "The Visit Doncaster team have worked closely with Yorkshire Wildlife Park (YWP) and I am absolutely delighted to support the expansion plans. YWP is already a huge asset for the borough and this additional investment will further secure its position as a top destination for visitors and residents. The creation of new jobs is also welcomed, providing a unique opportunity for local people and creating an added boost to our economy.
The fantastic level of investment comes at a time when we’re seeing several other major developments throughout Doncaster all contributing to enhancing Doncaster’s offer as a location to invest, work, live and enjoy.
YWP already significantly contributes to the 2.2 million visitors that Doncaster attracts each year –and we are excited by the growth that these plans can create. It will definitely raise Doncaster’s profile to an unprecedented level”.
YWP, in Branton, Doncaster, is currently developed on circa 100 acres of its current 300-acre site and is home to over 400 animals from more than 80 species.
It currently employs 300 local people and has contributed approximately £12.2 million to date to the local economy with visitor numbers rising steadily to a record 761,000 during 2016.
There will be enhanced apprenticeship and work experience opportunities as part of the expansion and it is estimated that approximately 300 local jobs will be created, essentially doubling the workforce.
Education is an important part of the park’s mission. Last year over 80,000 schoolchildren visited the site with 33,000 of those having a formal education session delivered by the YWP’s education team. The new scheme will allow this to be expanded.
The YWP design team is talking to the community, business leaders, councilors and politicians about the plans and is inviting feedback on the next stage in YWP’s life. There will also be public consultation events on Friday June and Saturday June 17.
The project is still in its early stages and pre-application discussions with Doncaster Council are currently being held. Outline planning permission will then be submitted in the next few months.
For more details, consultation information and a great video - learn more here https://www.yorkshirewildlifepark.com/consultation
Commenting on the expansion plan, 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 testament to the hard work of everyone at YWP, and I am sure they will see the park go from strength to strength.”
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