Council gives go-ahead for outdoor learning centres upgrade

Bewerley Park.

Senior councillors have given the go-ahead for a major investment into outdoor learning centres at Bewerley Park and East Barnby near Whitby.

North Yorkshire Council’s executive met yesterday to approve spending £4.2m on an 84-bed accommodation block at Bewerley Park and improvements to the accommodation block and dining room at East Barnby.

Bewerley Park was built in the 1940s and has been used by schoolchildren across North Yorkshire for decades. It offers activities including canoeing, rock climbing and orienteering so young people can learn life skills and have fun.

The council’s Outdoor Learning Service charges between £145 and £170 per night to attend Bewerley Park but the council said it has struggled to turn a profit since 2015 with the service losing money during some years.

This year it hiked the charge by up to £30 a night due to inflationary pressures.

The council’s Conservative executive member for finance, Gareth Dadd, said the service was “on its knees” but the investment has rescued the two sites “from the jaws of death”.

He added: “We were ready to send bulldozers in. Let’s make no bones about it.

“Officers and staff have responded and come up with what is a sustainable business model. Credit to them all in developing that.”

Further works at Bewerley Park could take place at a later date with a decision expected by 2028. Cllr Dadd said any future expansion will be dependent on the success of the new accommodation block.

The council will still need to obtain planning permission for the work but it says the centres will remain open during construction.

North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for education, learning and skills, Cllr Annabel Wilkinson, added: “This is an exciting project. For decades both centres have proven very popular, being visited by generations of families. Thousands of children and young people visit the centres each year and leave with positive, happy memories.

“It’s vital that our centres continue to deliver wonderful experiences in a more modern environment.”