Nell Bank centre's extension is vital for survival

9:00am Monday 26th May 2014

By Staff reporter

A centre that allows Bradford’s schoolchildren to get closer to nature has just been given the go ahead to double the amount of people making overnight visits.

Nell Bank Centre is a popular destination for school and family trips, but the group that run it say many schools limit their visits to day trips because there is not enough overnight accommodation on site.

The Nell Bank Trust has been granted planning permission for a 64 bed accommodation block, which they say is needed to ensure the future of the centre.

Bradford Council recently pulled out of Nell Bank after years of running and subsidising the centre, and it is now run wholly by the trust.

Before the council stopped it’s involvement in this and two other outdoor learning centres – Buckden House in Upper Wharfedale and Ingleborough Hall in Clapham – it made a £1 million investment in the three buildings from its schools budget, and the council hoped this investment will help the centres become self sustaining.

To do this, the trustees felt they needed to increase the numbers of visitors that can stay there overnight as part of school residentials.

Their application was approved by Bradford Council earlier this week and the trust says the decision means the centre can effectively double the amount of overnight visitors.

A new build accommodation block will replace one which trustees admitted has become “outdated and tired.”

The trust have yet to set a final budget for the project, but hope that work will start soon and be completed by winter.

Bruce Fowler, Nell Bank manager, said: “Bradford Schools have been outstanding in supporting the Nell Bank residential project with £400,000 as part of an overall £1 million strategy to raise attainment through learning in the outdoors.

“We are fortunate to have some outstanding school leaders in Bradford – none better – who demonstrate the effectiveness that learning outside can have on the attainment of their school children.

“Nell Bank also has a national reputation for inclusion of visitors with additional physical, sensory or learning needs and additional supportive funding will take account of the needs of this disadvantaged group.

“The new residential block will be surrounded by outstanding views of Ilkley Moor, the River Wharfe, 100 acres of oak and bluebell woodland and a dairy farm. We all remember our school trips. Many thousands of extra children will have memorable and valuable experiences when this project is finally completed.

“A lot of families in Bradford find it difficult to get somewhere where they can enjoy nature so this centre provides that.”

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