Ilkley's Nell Bank outdoor centre in bid for new block

An artist’s impression of how the Nell Bank accommodation block would look

An artist’s impression of how the Nell Bank accommodation block would look

First published in Local news Ilkley Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

Plans have been drawn up to replace ageing buildings at an award-winning Ilkley outdoor activity centre with a modern 64-bed dormitory block.

Bradford Council’s Education Buildings Team has submitted a planning application to build the new facilities on the site of existing accommodation.

Some of the buildings at Nell Bank, although refurbished with modern facilities, date back to World War Two.

It is hoped a purpose-built dormitory will increase the centre’s residential capacity – and help in ongoing efforts to make Nell Bank increasingly self-sustaining.

If approved by Council planners, the accommodation block will feature eight-person rooms, with supervisor accommodation in separate adjacent rooms, plus toilet and shower facilities, and a shared common area for supervisors and staff.

The Bradford Council activity centre provides day and residential experiences for schools and community groups, across a full age range and for visitors of all abilities.

As well as catering for adult visitors and groups from major companies, centre manager Bruce Fowler says about 90 per cent of Bradford district primary schools pay visits each year.

Children from all 37 of the schools classed as the most deprived in the district have visited Nell Bank recently.

Mr Fowler says the block, along with an Iron Age-style roundhouse also planned at the centre, will fit into the environment. He said: “We’re very excited about upgrading residential accommodation. Some of our sheds were used in the war – some of the original ones cost £60 plus VAT. We’re running the busiest outdoor centre from these Nissen huts.”

Nell Bank has also played host to visitors from major companies, and income from commercial groups is intended to support the development of the site for community groups with fewer resources.

In a design and access statement prepared on behalf of the Council, architects Farrell and Clark LLP said: “The continued success and popularity of Nell Bank has led to a need for the centre to expand and continually upgrade its facilities.

“To this end, the proposed new dormitory block described in this application looks to provide improved, modern and more sustainable accommodation for schools, community groups and companies alike and will help maintain the high reputation and popularity of Nell Bank.”

Although Nell Bank already has a residential block equipped to cater for disabled visitors, the proposed block would feature level access to all levels, and accessible toilet and washing provision.

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