Milligan has today announced it is forming a joint venture to develop the UK’s first fully serviced national park gateway as part of the 300-acre PEAK Resort development, consented on the eastern boundary of the Peak District National Park.
The Peak District is the UK’s original national park, covering 555 square miles and attracting over 13 million tourism visits each year. More than 25 million people live within 50 miles of its boundaries and currently 61% of visits are from the ‘east side’ of the park.
With the changes in attitude and movement brought about by the impact of Coronavirus and the increasing cost and environmental impact of international travel, demand for national parks is predicted to rise exponentially over the coming years. Whilst new visitors are encouraged to enjoy the countryside and learn about its heritage, their impact must be balanced with more sustainable ways to visit. As 85% of visitors currently arrive by car, a gateway facility providing accommodation, parking and services for onward travel into the park by foot, bike or in public electric vehicles through park-and-ride, will help mitigate their environmental impact and help to reduce traffic congestion.
Cundall, sustainability partner for the project, sees this as a unique opportunity to create an ultra-sustainable building at a time when the industry is crying out for practical examples of what Net Zero Carbon Buildings should look like. One of the Gateway at PEAK’s sustainable goals will be to operate with complete transparency on a number of pre-defined, industry standard metrics, sharing these with stakeholders and visitors as well as offsetting energy on a long-term basis, once the Gateway is complete and fully operating.
The Peak District National Park Authority and Chesterfield Borough Council have recognised both the challenges and the opportunities generated by sustainable tourism and have partnered with PEAK Resort landowner Birchall Properties and Milligan to explore and refine the development. The University of Derby, one of the UK’s leading hospitality and tourism institutions will also be a central part of the team, bringing leading thinkers and applied learning students.
Melanie Taylor, head of retail and relations at Milligan, said; “Our vision is to create a sustainable hub for like-minded businesses and a basecamp for the exploration of the Peak District. This will be a world-class example of a sustainable tourism project.
“A gateway could provide information for visitors to book single or multi-day itineraries, explore the area using more sustainable, less polluting modes of transport and buy or hire outdoor activity equipment to try out new activities. The information available about the wider Park’s attractions will help spread the economic benefit of millions of visitors beyond the area’s traditional ‘honey spots’.”
Sarah Fowler, chief executive of the Peak District National Park added; “As we approach our 70th year as the UK’s first national park, supporting sustainable gateways and opportunities for visitors to experience what we have to offer in a responsible way is vital to our future. It also resonates with our aim for everyone to be ‘PeakDistrictProud’ in their approach to spending time with us. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus the role that national parks and our outdoor spaces can play in our recovery and long-term wellbeing. It feels both timely and exciting to be working collaboratively with Milligan and Birchall Properties to create the first Peak District National Park gateway as part of the PEAK Resort. The Peak District’s unique position in the heart of the country already makes us accessible to millions and our involvement in the Gateway at PEAK will help unlock our wildlife, cultural heritage and natural beauty to others, befitting a pioneering approach to sustainable tourism.”
Over the next two months, the partnership led by Milligan will be undertaking a major marketing and research phase discussing the opportunity with companies both large and small, local and national that might be interested in participating. They will be looking to create partnerships with brands that align with the Gateway’s values and vision, to integrate products, experiences and expertise into the delivery of a world-class visitor experience.
Once this phase is completed in September, a detailed building specification will be finalised, and it is intended that construction will start in 2021.
To find out more about how your brand or business can get involved in the Gateway at PEAK, contact Melanie Taylor.
PEAK Resort has planning permission for up to 2,000 hotel rooms and 250 lodges as well as a whole range of leisure, education and entertainment facilities. Phase One of construction, the all-weather, all-year, all-ages Adrenalin World (working title) is already underway and will open in Spring 2021.