A Letter from Nantwich                                      

January 2013 

End of an era for water gardens attraction


THE Palms Tropical Oasis (right), a feature of the former Stapeley Water Gardens, on the outskirts of Nantwich, closed in September, 2010 - but then re-opened following an eight to 12-month delay in the plans to redevelop the site of the tourist attraction.

   It did so with advertising which heralded "an exciting range of exhibits plus a few old favourites, including the popular meerkat family" (left).

   Some of the animals, it must be said had already gone to new homes when the venue closed. But there was still much to see - especially bugs and creepy crawlies - in the attraction which was renamed Bugs of Fun Experience.


THE Stapeley site was a strange mixture of water gardens, garden centre and zoo.  

   The garden centre was originally going to be relocated around the Palms, which housed tropical animals, fish, etc. This was to free up land off London Road for housing and business accommodation.

   But then the plan changed with the garden centre being moved to a location by an entrance off Peter de Stapleigh Way.

   At the time, the Nantwich Chronicle reported that falling trade meant that land around the Palms had been sold and the garden centre would be built on the Palms land instead.

   The animals were to be rehoused and the staff would enter talks about their jobs.

   Not only was the Palms to go, but a well-known name in the leisure industry would be lost.






The Palms Tropical Oasis - part of the Stapeley Water Gardens complex

   The attraction would not be called Stapeley Water Gardens once the changes have been made.

   The plan for 150 homes to be built on the other end of the site off London Road remained.   

   The development was then called Nantwich South, which the developer's website saying there would be a primary school, a village square, a village green, a feature clock tower, a local (community?) centre, a landscaped open space, tree-lined boulevards, and something called a "leap".   


ANOTHER name was lost when Stapeley Water Gardens' Angling Centre ceased trading on January 2, 2013, in preparation for a move to new premises, according to items on its website.


   This was clearly an end of an era. The water gardens business was there for 45 years on the Stapeley site.

   The angling centre held a "relocating sale" before the move to Lakemore Country Park, Haslington, near Crewe.

   The address: Units 1 and 2, Lane Ends Farm, Clay Lane, Haslington. Opening day was Friday, January 18.

   The website address then used by the angling centre was the one that was once used by the water gardens itself. But there is a new one now . . .

Stapeley Angling Centre

lThe meerkats picture was taken from the Stapeley Water Gardens website.

 Flashback to when the idea of homes on the water gardens became a reality
Affordable homes - at last                                     The position in October 2007   

A GROUP of disappointed local people have learned that they have lost their fight to stop a much-loved tourist attraction / sales outlet becoming yet another housing development in the Nantwich area.

   And for once, I actually believe this is a plan that has some merit. For the first time that I am aware of locally, there are "affordable" homes planned here. This being the site of Stapeley Water Gardens.

   In case you think that I am in favour of the development because it is outside of town, and therefore not in my backyard, let me stress that what does it for me is those affordable homes. Affordable, that is, to people who are not natural buyers of the other developments in town where 250,000 has recently been suggested as the cost of a town house.

   The plan - approved by Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council in September - will mean the relocation of the sales area to the other side of the site, behind The Palms Tropical Oasis, on land already part of the water gardens, with a new access from Peter de Stapleigh Way. The relocation will make way for 150 homes and business (B1, if that means anything to you) accommodation.

   The Palms Tropical Oasis is the row of properties in the car park picture on the right. For those not familiar with Stapeley Water Gardens, the current (2007) sales area is across the car park behind the camera.

   Moving the sales area as suggested will put the buildings into one block, leaving the London Road access for the new housing and business accommodation. At the moment the water gardens are basically two blocks of buildings at either end of a very adequate car park - space for 1,500 cars and 50 coaches (with an overflow car park on the site).  

   One objection from the 109 residents who signed a petition opposing the plan is that the development will be another strain on the town's already pressed infrastructure (the town is short of doctors, dentists, schools and car parking, say the petitioners) - a point with which I have to agree.  

   The new entrance for the water gardens off Peter de Stapleigh Way (which I presume will be the one pictured






Part of the sales area at Stapeley Water Gardens

 Photographed with permission - even if it does look as though I am hiding among the plants to snatch it. 

below, left) opposite the road called Pear Tree Field) is another point of objection. I don't know who signed the petition, but I am guessing it is people local to the area.

   This crossroads is currently a T-junction with an entrance to the water gardens land in the far distance.

    While you can have sympathy with the people who live on that road, it must be said that until a few years ago, Peter de Stapleigh Way and the other roads in that area were green fields. (London Road is an old road, of course). The Cronkinson Farm Estate has brought more traffic to the area - and altered the layout of the London Road, Stapeley, area drastically (though not unpleasantly).

    [Under the definition of land previously used for another purpose, Cronkinson Farm was brown field and so qualified as an area to be built on.]

   When I first heard about the objections, I wondered if the local people were really being fair in objecting on traffic grounds to a proposal which is along the lines of something to which they were parties in the recent past - a new development.

Clearly the staff of the water gardens will arrive and leave outside of opening times - in the rush hour -but they are already part of the traffic on the local roads.      


    The demolition of Stapeley Manor - which was

on one corner of the water gardens site - the affect on wildlife and a strain on the sewers are other objections to the new homes plan.   

   The plans before Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council show that 33 per cent of the proposed homes will be in the "affordable" category - that's two per cent below the borough council's target for the site. But it was clearly considered to be close enough for the plan to be approved. 

   A water gardens spokesperson was quoted by the Nantwich Guardian (September 27) as saying: "The redevelopment will improve the overall visitor experience and facilities at Stapeley Water Gardens ensuring its future as a key tourist destination in the area."  

   [Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council was superseded by Cheshire East Council in 2009.]

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