Nature reserve invests £1m in new play area

PUBLISHED: 06:30 30 July 2014

Deb Jordan at Pensthorpe Nature Reserve where a new indoor play area is being built. Picture: Ian Burt

Deb Jordan at Pensthorpe Nature Reserve where a new indoor play area is being built. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant © 2014

A growing appetite for connecting the next generation with nature has prompted a £1m investment from a nature reserve near Fakenham.

Pensthorpe Wildlife and Gardens has seen a 60pc increase in visitors since launching WildRootz outdoor play development.

The 7,000sqm play area WildRootz, which opened to the public 12 months ago in a bid to excite the next generation about the natural world, is believed to be the reason for a 200pc increase in child visitors compared to the same period last year.

There has also been a 60pc increase in adult visitors, a 78pc rise in the number of under-threes and 50pc more school groups and party bookings. The news has cemented Pensthorpe’s plan to launch a £1m indoor play facility to complement the ethos of WildRootz, which is about getting children away from technology and back into more old fashion play and exploration.

The new indoor play development will bring the ‘outdoors-indoors’ giving children an ‘all-weather’ opportunity to learn about nature, take an interest in local wildlife and have exposure to an environment which will test their minds as well as their sense of adventure.

Deb Jordan, co-owner of Pensthorpe, said: “For the past eight years we’ve explored the ways children connect with nature and the most effective methods of exciting them about the natural world.

“By marrying our landscapes, wildlife and expertise with a unique and challenging play space, we hope to have made a good start in engaging with the next generation.

“WildRootz has been a wonderful development for Pensthorpe and we’re truly excited about our plans to complement it with an indoor play facility.”

The new indoor play area will naturally integrate with the style of WildRootz to comprise a myriad of natural features aimed at bringing the ‘outdoors indoors.’

It will be located next to WildRootz, enabling visitors to make the most of Pensthorpe gardens, wetlands, farmland.

Work is now underway with a view to opening to the public in spring 2015.

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