South Leeds residents look set to launch a campaign to bring a ‘Go Ape‘ treetop adventure course to Middleton Park, after a proposal to establish one in Roundhay Park was blocked by local opposition there.
Last October saw the idea first floated for Roundhay, followed by an extensive community consultation running until mid January. However, a petition against the scheme, led by Friends of Roundhay Park, gathered over 3,000 supporters – concerned about issues including risk to wildlife, parking and congestion, and a section of the park being leased to a private company. Leeds City Council and Go Ape have now this week announced that they no longer intend to progress the site at Roundhay, but remain keen to seek another location in the city.
Meanwhile, a number of south Leeds residents are pushing for a local campaign for Middleton Park to be considered for the development – with some lively debate on social media and in the community, which suggested a majority of local people (although not all) are behind the scheme.
Craig Sweaton, local resident and business owner – who launched one of the debates in the Middleton Facebook group – commented:
“This is just the kind of thing south Leeds needs. We often get overlooked, but this would bring people in, provide something positive for kids and families, and potentially boost local business. It’d be especially interesting if it linked with other amenities like Middleton Railway and the Bike Hub. Providing it’s done sympathetically, it would be a great addition to the park and the area.”
Other positive comments online included the following: “This kind of tourist attraction can only be a good thing; get Middleton on the map for the right reason” (Christine Venus). “So much woodland is wasted in LS10, especially after the closing of the golf club. This would be great” (Sarah Carney). And “It would generate jobs and money for the area; I personally would love a job doing something like that” (Mark Holroyd).
But some were against the idea, with comments including the following: “No no no no. Leave our beautiful park alone. We have already lost so much of our heritage and Middleton history. North Leeds are welcome to it” (Michelle Travis). “I’m not sure we could cope with more traffic in area; our council love building things without looking at the impact on the roads, and add no infrastructure to deal with potential problems” (Wayne Dixon). And “I think Miggy woods should be left as it is: it’s not a cheap day out at Go Ape, a walk through the woods is free” (Demi Hickinson). Read the full debates on Facebook here, here, and here.
South Leeds Life have spoken with both representatives for Friends of Middleton Park, and the Middleton Park councillors, and all have expressed interest in finding out more – especially the thoughts and wishes of local people – and seeing how the proposal develops. But they also stressed that there are many barriers and challenges, and that they cannot take a position until they know more.
‘Go Ape‘ is a national outdoor adventure company which runs 30 tree-top courses in woodland around the UK, featuring rope ladders, zip-wires, rope bridges, swings, and more. They are a multi award winning company, including for sustainability – but it comes at a cost, with tickets costing up to £33 per head. Their proposed Leeds scheme would cost an estimated £300,000, and create 35 jobs.