Bewerley Park Centre: 'Treasured' Yorkshire school trip site which has hosted generations of children since 1940 set to be saved from permanent closure

Bewerley Park Centre in Nidderdale looks set to be saved from permanent closure after the county council revealed plans to redevelop the school trip site.

Bewerley Park Centre
Bewerley Park Centre

The centre owned by North Yorkshire County Council has seen generations of schoolchildren take part in trips filled with activities since 1940, but has remained shut since March 2020 after being forecast to lose £1.6m due to Covid cancellations.

Its struggling situation led to warnings that the much-loved centre had become unviable due to the pandemic before the county council launched a review into its future.

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This sparked concerns that it could close permanently, but plans have now been revealed to spend £400,000 on a business case to look into how the centre can be redeveloped.

Councillor Stanley Lumley, who represents the Pateley Bridge division, said he was delighted the county council had recognised the value of the centre, saying it is “treasured by the local community, North Yorkshire and beyond”.

He said: “This will certainly be welcomed in my community. It was a real concern when the review was announced and people thought the worst and I was inundated with lobbying from people saying it must stay open.”

Erica Caswell, who worked at Bewerley Park for 31 years, including time as head of centre, also welcomed the news.

She said: “I am delighted that the county council have recognised the importance of this continued provision.

“I think the amount of concern expressed by the public, and users, has influenced the outcome. The response of the public shows how much this service is valued.”

Members of the county council’s executive will be asked to approve the £400,000 at a meeting Tuesday when it is also recommended that some minor improvements are made to the

East Barnby outdoor education centre near Whitby.

The upgrades will be agreed on a condition that the county council’s outdoor education service can demonstrate it can raise significantly more than the £2.2m it currently generates annually.

Plans to redevelop Bewerley Park, which is made up of 31 mainly wooden buildings built around 80 years ago, include new accommodation blocks, a central facilities hub with a kitchen and dining area, teaching spaces, offices and storage.

Councillor Patrick Mulligan, executive member for education and skills at the county council, said: “If the proposals are approved later this month, then the service has been given the opportunity to thrive, but it must be commercially viable and be more financially independent.

“The two residential sites are situated in spectacular countryside in Nidderdale in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and in the North York Moors National Park.

“We would like schools, charities and other groups to use them to their full potential.

“If the investment is agreed, then we still need to secure the future of the service by making sure it is well-used, year round, so that generations to come can continue to create memories of a lifetime in the North Yorkshire countryside.”