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New Year start on £100m Trentham project to create major visitor destination

The first phase of the £100 million project to create one of Europe’s leading visitor destinations within the historic 750-acre woodland Trentham estate, Stoke-on-Trent, will be opened to the public late next Spring.

The beautiful estate centred around the mile long lake has been a much loved part of North Staffordshire but had been allowed to decline under previous owners for many years.

Trentham Leisure Ltd, a joint venture between St Modwen Properties PLC (80 per cent) and Mr Willi Reitz (20 per cent), a German investor with long connections with the leisure industry, is undertaking this exciting and ambitious venture.

Anthony Glossop, deputy chairman and chief executive of St Modwen, today unveiled details of the initial work which is centred on the restoration of Capability Brown’s parkland and the famous Italian Gardens designed by Sir Charles Barry in the 1830s.

Top landscape architects Land Use Consultants of London, who were involved in the Eden Project, working with leading garden designers Tom Stuart-Smith and Peit Oudolf, will begin next month the intricate task of restoring Barry’s grand design as well as introducing contemporary landscape features.

The first phase of the main planting will be completed prior to re-opening and the restoration of the historic features will continue during next summer, including the reconstruction of three missing stone pavilions, which will be an added attraction to visitors.

A new Visitor Centre is being created serving as the main entrance to the restored gardens, linked to the car parks via a new bridge over the River Trent.

As part of the first phase, there will be an on-going programme for the restoration of the park, woodland and lake. The public will have free access to the woodland and lake and be able to experience boating , forest adventures, woodland walks, cycling and more strenuous activities.

Trentham has over 400 acres of woodland teeming with a wide variety of wildlife which all the family will be able to enjoy.

Future phases will include a unique monkey park, an outdoor activities centre and holiday lodges. One of the major single projects will be the reconstruction of Sir Charles Barry’s Trentham Hall (demolished 1912) as a five-star hotel.

Construction will also begin in January on a major garden centre to be operated by the Blue Diamond Group of Guernsey, which specialises in operating high quality destination garden centres in England and the Channel Islands.

The Garden Centre will be the centrepiece of the Retail Village, the first phase comprising 20 lifestyle, heritage, leisure and craft retailing and restaurants. The Garden Centre and Retail Village will open in September.

Mike Herbert, regional director of St Modwen, said: “Trentham will certainly become one of the top visitor destinations in the country. This ‘sleeping beauty’ will significantly boost North Staffordshire’s tourism image and it is estimated that 1,000 jobs will be created on site with a similar number created from spin-offs within the local economy.”

Trentham Gardens closes to the public on December 22 to allow the restoration programme to begin. John Lowther, operations director of Trentham Leisure, said: “When the grounds re-open to the public it will be in conjunction with the progressive renovation and opening of woodland walks not previously accessible to the public.”

Notes to the Editor

Restoration of the gardens and parkland and associated buildings will continue through 2005 and 2006 including the creation of additional feature landscaped areas.

Other planned development during this period includes:

* A winery celebrating the history and culture of wine-making.

* The second phase of the Retail Village providing further specialis?t retail and restaurant outlets and a sports and leisure retaIl facility.

* Outdoor activity centre providing rowing on the lake, walking trails through the woodlands, mountain biking areas and tree-top climbing.

* A monkey park.

* Holiday lodges overlooking the lake.

* A fishing centre.

* Reconstruction of Trentham Hall (largely demolished) into a five-star hotel with conference and health and fitness facilities.

For further information contact Mike Herbert of St Modwen (01782-281844) or John Lowther of Trentham Leisure (01782-657341). Issued by Paul Raymer of Howle Chapman Raymer (0121-236-7771).