Farnley Country Park

A new tourist destination for Yorkshire

We recently launched our proposal to create a regionally-significant country park in Huddersfield. The vision is for a 6,000 acre country park, with a 17-mile multi-purpose, off-road accessible track for cycling, walking and riding. From research it's a plan that could create up to 450 new jobs and provide a huge boost to the local economy.

Over the past 18 months, we’ve spoken with more than 400 organisations, including schools, charities, rural businesses, community groups and others, representing in excess of 600,000 individuals, and with a potential reach of 1.5 million people, as to how they could benefit from greater access to the land.

Paul Sykes, Farnley Estates Director said: “A country park, with a main hub for parking, facilities, refreshments, rural businesses and education centre, giving access to a circular track that gives people access to the park, was the logical answer to the feedback we received.

“Due to existing road and rail networks, we believe that there is a further opportunity to expand the proposal. If we can encourage neighbouring land owners to partner with us, including Kirklees Council which owns land to the north of the Estate, we can create a country park that rivals Epping Forest in size.”

As well as the health and well-being benefits to local people, of greater access to green open space, Farnley Estates wants to help Kirklees gain a greater share of the £7 billion spent by tourists in Yorkshire each year. According to ONS figures tourist spend in Kirklees and Calderdale combined, accounts for just 3.3% of the economy.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to put Huddersfield well and truly on the tourist map. We want to make Farnley Country Park attractive not just for a short walk but for a long stay, and encourage them to explore the region from here. And we want to make the Park accessible for all. We’ve already spoken with various groups about the potential to make the circuit accessible to people in wheelchairs, include dementia-friendly features, and cater for people from a range of cultural backgrounds,” said Paul. 

Based on the feasibility study, the overall cost of Farnley Country Park could reach £150 million. The most controversial part of the Farnley Country Park plan involves releasing land from green belt. In order to pay for the initial development and ongoing maintenance of the Park, we've proposed selling some of our land to meet Kirklees Council’s need for housing.

Kirklees Council have admitted the need to release land from green belt to meet the need for housing in the Local Plan, and recently put out a call for landowners to put forward suitable sites.

“As with other landowners, we submitted suitable sites for consideration for housing in the Local Plan. However, we intend to use funds from the sale of any land accepted to create a legacy for Huddersfield in the form of Farnley Country Park.

“We understand the concerns of local people, but we live in this area too, and we want to make sure it can be enjoyed by generations to come. If land has to be released from green belt for housing, then why not give the people of Huddersfield a country park in return?” said Paul.

As well as helping to fund the initial development, we intend to create a ‘sinking fund’, which involves investing £7 to £10 million that will generate interest to pay for the Park’s ongoing maintenance.

Paul said: “We’re taking a long term view of this proposal. While many large projects of this nature grind to a halt when funding dries up, we intend to make sure that we have a financially sustainable business plan, and one that can help to grow the local economy, rather than depend on future handouts to keep it going.”

To find out more about the plans and have your say on the proposal via an online vote, please visit www.peopleforthepark.co.uk