£50m plan for wildlife park clears first hurdle

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Owners of Yorkshire Wildlife Park hope it will become a “world-class tourist destination” after a £50m expansion proposal was met with early-stage approval.

Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council agreed outline permission yesterday for plans which involve 150 acres being transformed into an extension of the attraction, with 300 jobs set to be created.

Amur Tigers at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park. Picture: David Roberts

Amur Tigers at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park. Picture: David Roberts

The park at Branton wants to convert neighbouring land to join its current site through the expansion so it can increase its collection of over 400 animals from more than 80 species, many of them endangered.

Founded eight years ago, it has a reputation for creating innovative animal reserves and championing conservation.

It currently employs around 300 people and has contributed about £12.2m to the local economy, with visitor numbers rising steadily to a record 761,000 last year, according to the park.

CEO John Minion said: “This is great because it’s going to create plenty more jobs for the local area. Come summer 2019, with the new expansion, we will employ a further 300 members of staff. We are very excited about this next stage of our life and this is a game changer for Yorkshire Wildlife Park, Doncaster and the surrounding area.”

It is in touch with colleges and schools about job, apprentice and work experience opportunities.

Ros Jones, Mayor of Doncaster, said the park was a “fantastic success story”.