Entry fees at Tilgate Park’s nature centre could be ‘gradually increased’ as part of a five-year improvement plan.
Crawley Borough Council is planning to invest in the popular attraction as it looks to enable both the park and nature centre to become self-funding by 2020/21.
Among the recommendations are creating continental zones within the nature centre, charging for the scattering of ashes in a new remembrance garden, improving toilet facilities in the walled garden, creating an events area from the unused sand school within the walled garden, and improving the quality of The Barn education centre.
Potentially they could also look at upgrading lakeside facilities in partnership with Dynamic Adventures, who would look to obtain grant funding for any improvements.
The details were included in a five year business plan for the park, which is due to be discussed by CBC’s Overview and Scrutiny Commission next Monday (October 5).
The report reads: “Three years ago the park secured over £500K capital investment through the Council’s budgetary process, on a ‘spend to save’ basis, to make improvements to visitor attractions, whilst improving facilities such as toilet provision within the main car park and expansion and re-surfacing of the overflow ‘lakeside’ car park.
“Since then, animal enclosures have been improved, new animals introduced such as the ever popular meerkats, a visitor shop opened and a small entry charge introduced for the nature centre. Smith & Western, Go Ape and Dynamic Adventures have also come to Tilgate Park, bringing additional visitors and income.
“Following these changes, in excess of £150K additional annual income has been received by the park and nature centre, exceeding the promised additional income for the £500k investment.”
It suggests that admissions fees for the nature centre could be gradually increased to support the investment, while winter charging could also be introduced. Special ‘free days’ would be maintained for people on a low income.
There are also plans to repair and maintain eroded paths, lakeside bank edges, fences and walls within the park.
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