MIDDLESBROUGH’S Newham Grange Leisure Farm is set for a £3m transformation into a first rate tourism attraction and education facility.

The proposals to make the significant investment for improved farm facilities were approved by Middlesbrough Council’s Executive in a meeting at the Town Hall today.

The leisure, community, educational and financial benefits were put to the committee by Cllr Denise Rooney, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Environment and Commercial Services.

She said: “Newham Grange Leisure Farm is a much loved and well used community attraction which we can make even better – much, much better – by making this investment.

“The money would be spent increasing the animal stock, improving the play facilities, creating a new café and farm shop and introducing important educational opportunities, among other positive changes.

“Also, an independent review of the leisure offer shows that these improvements would lead to an increase in visitors meaning that the farm could run at a profit to taxpayers instead of a loss.”

Currently the farm attracts around 30,000 visitors each year but runs at a financial loss of around £40,000 annually.

However an independent review of the attraction found that with significant investment the site could attract a minimum of 60,000 visitors which projections show would turn the loss into a £83,220 profit.

The proposed improvements include:

  • Improved car and coach parking
  • Welcome centre including café and farm shop
  • Market square
  • New indoor play barn
  • Relocated and improved outdoor play
  • Barn for public events use
  • Expanded and improved covered petting/activities space
  • Restoration of the old farmhouse as an education centre
  • Development of farm and wildlife trails
  • New stock and feed barns built
  • Further development of community allotments
  • Other general improvements

The report states that the improvements would be in keeping with the Mayor’s Vision for Middlesbrough, environmental aspirations and education policies.

An education centre would be created by restoring an old farmhouse with classrooms with internet access, toilets, office space and storage space for learning materials.

Tees Valley schools were consulted over the proposals and a positive response was received, particularly around the concept of “farm to fork”.

Cllr Jan Brunton Dobson, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Education and Skills, and ward member for Coulby Newham, said: “The benefits of this scheme are huge and transformational in a number of ways. The educational offer would have great value to a lot of people of different ages, needs and backgrounds, while the farm would be bolstered as a leisure attraction for many more people to enjoy.

“Additionally, the work would act as an important piece of conservation work for the farm and its important buildings which will be hugely welcome in Coulby Newham and across Middlesbrough.”