MILLIONS of pounds is to be invested in Alton Towers – despite the axe falling on plans for a £15 million relief road.
The cash, from parent company Merlin Entertainments Group, has made it possible for the Moorlands attraction to draft a 10-year plan shaping the future of the theme park for the first time for years.
The blueprint includes the creation of more accommodation and further attractions and the extension of the season.
Although a privately funded relief road was ruled out earlier this week, options will also be explored to ease congestion on the surrounding lanes.
The first major investment is expected to be a new £12 million ride to replace the Corkscrew.
The plan is part of the theme park's strategy to encourage visitors to stay longer.
This is expected to have spin-off benefits for bed-and-breakfasts and other tourist attractions in the area.
The announcement has been welcomed by community leaders as good news for jobs and prosperity at a time of economic gloom.
Mark Kerrigan, head of development at Alton Towers, said: "This is the first time in many years that we have been able to plan so far ahead. We are now part of the Merlin Entertainments Group which has made a long-term commitment to us.
"Alton Towers plays a very significant role in the local economy – as is clear from our most recent economic impact report – and as such having a long-term vision is very good news for the whole area.
"Without investment, we would very quickly lose market share and the potential consequences could be nothing short of catastrophic for this region.
"Since the acquisition by Merlin two years ago, we have begun to reposition the resort as a family destination rather than a day trip."
Councillor John Wakefield, county cabinet member for economic regeneration and sustainable communities, said Alton Towers was an essential part of the local and regional tourism economy.
He said: "The 10 -year plan is good news, with a strong commitment to deliver extra investment which will have significant benefits to the local and regional economy and jobs."
Tony Moult, chairman of Alton Parish Council, said he was disappointed the relief road would not be going ahead after years of campaigning.
He added: "£15 million is a lot to have spent on a road. They could probably build another ride with that amount to replace The Corkscrew.
"People do come into Alton and visit pubs. Alton Towers does help trade in the village."
"AstroDan" wrote:The key points:
- Longer Open Season (to include Christmas?)
- More accommodation (new hotels? Budget accommodation?)
- Major new attractions
"billyrae" wrote:Whats on the 10 year plan that i find interesting,,zilch
"billyrae" wrote:The 10 yr plans called 'Project Dolphin',,,.Mmmmm well as long as we dont see flipper and his bloody mates splashing around in a pool
"rightbackgranty" wrote:I'm also excited about this new accomodation. I'm hoping for some some low budget style - Self catering log cabins would be really nice if done properly. Something along the lines of Centre Parcs would be cool.
A decade development plan is great news, i've got nothing much else to say that hasn't already been said, but I think scrapping (or putting off) the relief road was a mistake. If they plan on making themselves a really major resort in the future with all the facilities (more hotels, leisure complex) they cant rely on access thru small villages.