Council explains reasons behind Alnwick Garden investment

15 Feb 2017

Northumberland County Council has stressed the benefits to taxpayers and the wider economy of a planned loan to a world-class tourist attraction.

Lilidorei is a multi-million pound project which will bring to life a new world-leading visitor experience at The Alnwick Garden, created specifically with children in mind.

The attraction will be situated in a forest clearing north of The Alnwick Garden’s famous treehouse and the development will include Elphic, the world’s largest play structure.

The Duchess of Northumberland and Northumberland County Council are working in partnership to create the attraction, with the Council contributing an £8.5 million loan.

Council leader Grant Davey said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for Northumberland but I can understand why some people aren’t clear why the council is planning the loan in these times of financial austerity.

“We are living in different times and need to think differently -  we want to be clear the loan will not impact on the services the council provides and once Lilidorei is open to the public and generating income, the loan will be repaid in full to the Council over a 15-year period.

“We need to focus on the future growth and prosperity of Northumberland and Lilidorei will bring economic benefits from the build stage onwards and further cement the county’s position in the global tourist landscape.

“As a responsible council we would not look to invest in any project where we were concerned about risk or where there would be no obvious benefit to residents in the long-term.

“The Council took the decision to invest as we are confident Lilidorei will make a significant contribution to regeneration plans for Northumberland and the region, especially relating to tourism, an area identified for huge economic growth.

“Lilidorei will generate at least 25 permanent jobs and the equivalent of 10 further seasonal positions initially. However a forecast review recently completed suggests that given the range of activities planned, this could easily double.

“At least another 20 indirect jobs will be created in the area due to the development.

“Recruitment will draw from the local community while local companies are being recruited for the development and build.

“With more to see and do in the area, visitors will stay longer and bring additional money into the local economy, benefitting individuals, communities and local businesses. Hotels and B&Bs, shops, pubs and restaurants, and existing Northumberland tourist attractions all stand to benefit from higher numbers of visitors.

“And based on the same ratio as The Alnwick Garden, the economic contribution of Lilidorei to the local economy will be around £4.4 million per year.

“I want to reassure residents that the decisions we take are in the best interests of Northumberland and we are confident the finished project will cement Alnwick’s status as a world class visitor attraction.”

The project has been submitted for planning permission, with work scheduled to begin in spring 2017 and an estimated completion date of April 2019.