Treewalks, zip lines and high ropes

Stepping Stones, Alexandra Palace

Ealing Councillors have given approval for their officers to work with the Gunnersbury CIC to negotiate a contract with Go Ape (Adventure Forest Ltd) to install zipwires and tree walks in the trees around the children’s playground, the derelict changing rooms and the Coronation Chalet. We are promised a period of consultation once the project is approved, and the company will have to apply for planning permission from LB Hounslow.

The installation will involve wooden towers, wires and ropes between trees to create high walks, aerial platforms, and wires to slide down to the ground. Some will be constructed for small children, the rest for larger children and adults. Some readers might remember adventure playgrounds – the ropes and poles are reminiscent of those set-ups but offer a more ambitious experience.

The plan which accompanies this article is here (it is a large PDF so may download slowly). It is not easy to interpret but it shows four zipwires (one finishing near the path between the pond and the playground, and three in a triangle between Chalet and the Potomac Lake) It also shows high walks, between the changing rooms and the old golf course, and two in stands of trees near the Potomac. The area north of the chalet is proposed for the smaller children’s activities. There are very many photographs of these installations on the web – google images “go ape” to get an idea of what is involved.

The company started building these sites in forests, often in collaboration with the Forestry Commission, in 2002. They have 30+ sites in the UK, four in London (Battersea, Alexandra Palace, Trent Park, Chessington). It is a profitable company with a turnover of c.£27m, employing around 1,000 people. In 2016 the average revenue per customer was just under £21 – an adult wanting a Tree Top Adventure at Battersea today would pay £36, a teenager £28. The company thinks it will need 35 car parking spaces at peak times in the summer.

The terms look like this – a minimum of £50,000 a year to the Community Interest Company, and a further sum based on visitor numbers – the company is expecting that to rise to £117,000 from the third year onwards. Gunnersbury’s Community Interest Company’s view is that it welcomes a high-quality visitor attraction which complements what the park already offers, it recognises the attractive commercial proposition, but wishes to consult with park users and community stakeholders.

19 July 2018