Locals Go Ape at new plan for park

Campaigners first protested about the Go Ape plans for Rivington in 2008
Campaigners first protested about the Go Ape plans for Rivington in 2008

The row over the opening of an adventure playground in woodlands near Chorley is rumbling on – two years after it opened.

The Go Ape high-wire course opened in Lever Park, Rivington, in 2009 and is about to start its third season in April.

At the time of its opening campaigners claimed Lever Park was protected from development and were furious when Chorley Council granted planning permission.

Nearly 40,000 people have visited the attraction in the past two years.

But Robert Dootson, chairman of the Friends of Lever Park, said: “It’s an eyesore and it’s spoilt the park.

“The land is supposed to be for the public to enjoy, and not for profit, but people avoid that area of the park now because it’s been damaged from when the business first opened. It’s a mud heap.”

Mr Dootson is also concerned that Go Ape has made a number of changes to the zip wire landing zones since opening.

He said: “I understand that they (Go Ape) may submit a retrospective planning application, but we would like to see enforcement action coupled with a stop order to ensure that the operation of this development is halted until any retrospective planning application is considered.”

Ben Davies, business development manager for Go Ape said: “We are aware of the concerns regarding our Rivington course and are working to address these.

“Over 38,000 people have visited the course since it opened in 2009.”

In December that year, a Government ombudsman found Chorley Council guilty of maladministration over its initial handling of the development.

It had failed to notify residents of the application and had not adhered to certain procedures.

Coun Peter Malpas, who oversees planning at the council, said: “We are in discussions with Go Ape regarding certain elements of the course and are expecting a further application to be submitted soon in relation to this, which will be determined on its planning merits.

“People will be able to make comments on any applications we receive and they will all be considered as part of any decision that we make.”