Oswestry's British Ironwork Centre in expansion hope
One of Shropshire's biggest tourist destinations has submitted plans to create an outdoor theatre, crazy golf course and mini railway.
The expansion of the British Ironwork Centre, on the A5 near Oswestry, would also see buildings for a cafe, farm shop, cycle museum, youth support enterprise centre, mini-station, engine shed, greenhouses and a nature observatory.
The plans are outlined in an application to Shropshire Council.
The venue features a sculpture park, which is home to the famous Knife Angel, and attracts thousands of visitors each year. It has established itself as one of Shropshire’s most popular tourist destinations, hosting events including the first ever Oswestry Half Marathon earlier this year and the Oswestry Balloon Festival last month.
In addition to a retrospective planning application for certain parts of the site, owner Clive Knowles now wants to build a number of buildings to house a range of new attractions.
Berrys, the agents handling the planning application, said the new plans include buildings to house a cafe, farm shop, cycle museum, youth support enterprise centre, mini-station, engine shed, greenhouses and a nature observatory, in addition to the theatre, crazy golf course and mini railway.
It is estimated that the centre, which employs around 60 to 70 staff, makes a financial contribution of about £4 million to the economy each year.
The centre is applying for retrospective planning permission for some parts of the site after it was revealed that a warehouse had been turned into a showroom and new toilets constructed without the necessary permission.
But Mr Knowles says it was done quickly to accommodate a royal visit, when Prince Michael dropped in to the centre.
The retrospective application has been supported by many, including the Economic Growth Survey, which said it has a significant impact on Oswestry’s local economy.
It said: “The enterprise is an important tourism attraction which brings in a large number of visitors who also go on to visit Oswestry helping to underpin and sustain local shops and associated services in the town.
“The integration of the former Shropshire Council-run Tourism Information Centre into the scheme will also help to stimulate the local tourist economy pinpointing local facilities.“The business already makes a financial contribution to the economy of up to £4m and plays an important role in supporting the local supply chain with up to 140 local businesses in the area.”