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300 jobs hope for Cumbrian extreme sports centre

The world’s largest indoor extreme sports centre could be built in Copeland, creating up to 300 jobs.

West Lakes Xtreme is an £18 million development that would house Britain’s biggest ice-climbing wall and its first indoor canyoning centre.

There would be innovative children’s climbing features, a snow room, ropes course and artificial cave, as well as climbing and bouldering walls. Regen North East Copeland consulted on the idea two years ago. Now the scheme has taken a giant step forward.

It is being led by Venture Xtreme, a private company based in Preston, Lancashire, that aims to set up a network of extreme-sports centres.

A bid for £2m of funding has gone to the Government’s £2.4bn regional growth but the backers have yet to reveal where the rest of the money would come from. The bid has the backing of Britain’s Energy Coast and Copeland and Cumbria County councils.

Elaine Woodburn, the Labour leader of Copeland Council, said: “For an area to thrive you need a good mix of leisure and cultural facilities. This bid would be a first for this country. To have it here in Copeland would be fantastic.

“It really would attract a lot of people into the area and it could be a catalyst for further regeneration.”

West Lakes Xtreme would employ more than 130 people directly. Another 150 or more jobs might follow in the immediate area as a result of spending by visitors.

The original consultation assumed that the centre would be built on the site of Ehenside School in Cleator Moor, which closed in 2008.

This may still be the case but it is understood that other sites in Copeland are under consideration.

Steve Jones, managing director of Venture Xtreme, declined to comment on the proposal for fear of compromising “really delicate” negotiations.

But when his company carried out market research in Windermere on potential users of the centre, he tweeted that the response had been “amazingly positive”.

There are proposals for extreme-sports centres in major cities such as London, Manchester, Nottingham, Coventry and Derby. However, those backing the Copeland proposal are confident it is ahead of the others and that its location, on the fringe of the Lakes, would be a huge draw.

A report to Copeland council’s ruling executive in 2010 highlighted the potential benefits.

The report said: “It meets the criteria identified by the local community and would also create a vital new tourist attraction and facility for use by the wider community. Cleator Moor is an ideal location in view of its accessibility and proximity to the Lake District National Park.”

Have your say

Mr Picker, the lake district is the UK's most visited national park.
Understand your market...

Posted by Billy on 22 July 2012 at 15:14

Any centre of population is over a hundred miles away. If I was investing money in such a venture I would not want it in the back of beyond but nearer to my customers and near to a motorway. Daydreams only work with common sense.

Posted by Nit Picker on 26 June 2012 at 17:36

View all 26 comments on this article

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