Revealed: Whitlingham Country Park to expand, with more activities

Visitors to Whitlingham Country Park have been assured its trustees are not planning to bring in ent

Visitors to Whitlingham Country Park have been assured its trustees are not planning to bring in entrance fees. Picture: Christopher Keeley - Credit: Christopher Keeley

Whitlingham Country Park will become larger, easier to access and with a broader range of activities, its trustees said after severing ties with the Broads Authority.

James Colman, whose father pioneered the vision for Whitlingham Country Park. Picture: Rob Colman

James Colman, whose father pioneered the vision for Whitlingham Country Park. Picture: Rob Colman - Credit: Archant

The trustees will be managing the park independently from next year, after the decision was made to end 27 years of BA joint-management.

The park was made from land owned by the Crown Point Estate, with the two broads within the site created by extracting gravel.

As part of the creation of the site, which boasts picturesque land and waterscapes, the Whitlingham Charitable Trust was formed.

Since 1995, the trust has worked alongside the Broads Authority to manage the site, with the BA operating a visitor centre and providing rangers for it. However, this arrangement is due to end on March 31, 2020, with the trustees set to take on sole management.

They said it would present fresh opportunities for the park and "enhance the visitor offer" of it.

A spokesman for the Whitlingham Charitable Trust said: "Following the decision to manage the site ourselves, we have developed new plans for enhancing the visitor offer and building on the work that has been done to date.

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"The plans, which are currently being finalised, will include enlarging the site to offer more access to the surrounding land and improvements to the current barn and café area.

"Once completed, this will make the area more accessible for visitors and provide a broader range of core facilities."

While the trust is remaining tight-lipped over exactly what the proposals for Whitlingham are, it hope it will add to what is already on offer to visitors.

The spokesman added: "Longer-term, we are looking at the opportunities to develop the site to provide more space for learning, outdoor activities and leisure pursuits.

"We hope to achieve this through a balanced approach to preserving the landscape which is managed by the trust and continuing to provide easy access to green spaces for all our visiors."

MORE: Colman family to end 25-year contract with Broads Authority over Whitlingham Country Park

James Colman, of the Crown Point Estate, added: "I am very proud of my father's original vision of Whitlingham as a leisure and educational resource and would like to thank the Broads Authority for all it has done to help shape that vision over the last 27 years.

"The estate looks forward to working with the trust on an expanded vision that can be shared, advanced and kept alive for future generations."

Bill Dickson, chairman of the BA, said he was disappointed the partnership was coming to an end.

He said: "We at the broads are sad that our partnership with the Colman family is coming to an end. We wish the trustees every success in building on what we have achieved together."

History of Whitlingham

Unlike the many other Broads in the region, Whitlingham was not forged as a result of the removal of peat - and is not as steeped in history as the others. However, its story is just as fascinating.

Located on land owned by the Crown Point Estate, Whitlingham Country Park boasts picturesque land and waterscapes and is a hotbed of water activity, from canoeing to sailing.

The vision for the site first came about in 1988, when an agreement was made between the estate and Norfolk County Council to create a broad as a gift to the city of Norwich.

It was created by extracting gravel from the site , which began in 1990 with the creation of what is now known as the Little Broad.

Five years later, the creation of the Great Broad began.

After years of work, Whitlingham Little Broad was opened to the public in August 1997, while Whitlingham Great Broad followed in 2004.