AMBITIOUS plans to turn Arrow Valley Park into a major regional tourist and leisure destination have taken a step nearer reality.
It follows a decision by the Borough Council’s executive committee to take over the running of the Arrow Valley Countryside Centre – its lease is up on March 31 – through its ‘arms length’ company Rubicon Leisure.
If approved by full council Rubicon could be running the centre on April 1.
Six key ambitions have been outlined:
To support the creation of a ‘destination par’k that raises the profile of Redditch at a regional level to act as a catalyst for inward investment.
To increase footfall and dwell times.
To ensure the facilities on site are maintained to the highest standards.
To enhance water sports and implement an environmental-based education and activities programme,
To link services within the park to increase awareness of the wider opportunity the park can offer to local residents and visitors.
To develop an evening economy and events.
Leisure and culture portfolio holder Coun Mike Rouse (Con, Church Hill) told members: “We need to be honest with ourselves here because the centre is currently not good enough. The business is on the floor and in a terrible mess.
“Transferring it to Rubicon would change all of that and contribute further to unlocking of Redditch.”
Speaking afterwards he added: “Rubicon has the freedom to walk down the lake and work with the sailing club and link up with other groups within the park so we can join up the leisure and tourism offer.”
He described Arrow Valley Park as second only to New York’s famous Central Park in terms size for a town or city centre park and with huge potential.
“It covers 900 acres, it’s the second largest central park in the world, we have a real gem here and we want people to come to Redditch, enjoy a nice walk round, have a coffee – it’s all part of making Redditch a leisure destination.”
Labour Group Leader Coun Bill Hartnett (Church Hill) told the meeting: “It’s an exciting time for the community.
“Rubicon Leisure taking over could mean the centre is open for a longer.
“How fantastic would it be for visitors if they could have a bite to eat at a restaurant which overlooked Arrow Valley Lake?”
Staff currently working at the centre would be asked to transfer to Rubicon Leisure to avoid job losses.
The move is also seen as beneficial for council coffers with Rubicon expected to make a cash surplus from the centre, enabling faster repayment of its management fee.