Letter from Nantwich
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
12-month delay in the plans to redevelop the site of the tourist
It did so with advertising which heralded "an
range of exhibits plus a few old favourites,
including the popular meerkat
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
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
to when the idea of homes on the water gardens became a
Affordable homes -
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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.]