A huge £5m ‘family attraction’ could be built on five acres of land at the heart of Heaton Park. Manchester City Council are inviting expressions of interest from the private sector to develop a five-acre area close to the boating lake for ‘a mix of outdoor and indoor play and education.
The council have published an invitation to potential partners for ‘suitably qualified suppliers who could potentially design, build, and operate a new family attraction facility at the heart of Heaton Park’.
A Family Attraction At Heaton Park
A brochure outlining the opportunity, with a total investment cost of around £5M, has been published by the authority.
The council said it was their vision to make the 640 acres of open space ‘the best park in the North West’ through a mix of public and private investment.
The brochure, states: “In 2019, a commercial masterplan for the park was undertaken that recommended several investment opportunities
across the site including a new family attraction.
“The lakeside location was agreed to be the preferred option, as it offered more scope to develop with heritage constraints, has a high footfall, is easily accessible and is close to one of the six car parks.
“The site currently consists of a free-to-access ‘lakeside adventure’ woodland play area installed in 2019, a café, a boathouse, a tram shed and a changing places accessible unit due to open in early 2024.
A Mix of Outdoor and Indoor Play
“The concept of the family attraction is to provide a mix of outdoor and indoor play and education that would operate throughout the year.”
The brochure said that currently, Heaton Park has no indoor activities open to the public apart from the farm centre classroom.
The brochure, added: “The introduction of an indoor play facility would significantly improve the autumn and winter offer and would help to sustain
footfall through inclement weather.”
The council said it hoped the family attraction would incorporate the existing lakeside-built environment and be sympathetically designed in mind of the green belt status of the park.
It would also have a food and drink offer, include a space for private bookings such as children’s parties or school trips and have a portion of its offer
with no charge to the public.
The brochure said that the proposal was that both Manchester City Council and the operator share the capital costs 50/50 with the authority prepared to provide up to £2.5million of capital investment through its parks development programme.
Any applicant would need to match-fund the council’s capital input.
The new attraction would be expected to generate a minimum return on investment of 10 per cent a year across the first 10 years of operation.
The deadline for expressions of interest in the project is Friday, December 8.
If there is enough market interest the authority said they will hold a formal supplier engagement event early in 2024 where they will provide interested parties with further details and an opportunity to view the site and meet the project team.