Trentham Estate holiday homes plan: 'Trentham is a place we can be proud of'
FOR more than eight decades Trentham Gardens has been regarded with warm affection by tourists and locals alike.
And while the latest proposals represent a far cry from the excitement generated by an open-air swimming pool in the 1930s, the natural splendour of the hallowed estate has seen it remain as of one the region's most favoured places to visit.
Now visitors could soon have the opportunity to prolong their stay in Trentham's grounds, after proposals were unveiled to build 75 holiday lodges among the estate's woodland.
That development looks set to be joined by a further 26 shops and a sizeable sports retail unit at the already popular shopping village.
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Meanwhile, a winery featuring information on the brewing process along with fresh vines growing in its vicinity will bring yet another new feature to the destination.
Back in 1996 St Modwen bought the site for £2.6 million, and has invested heavily in creating a place that can boast as many visitors as the amount of visitors the company has spent on the gardens.
"I get quite wound up when people say Stoke-on-Trent is a terrible place," said the firm's regional director Mike Herbert, pictured below.
"What we have done to Trentham Gardens is about raising the profile of the area and that's something we feel proud of."
While accommodation is already available at an on-site hotel, the lodges will represent an alternative sleeping option for visitors looking to make the most out of their stay.
Artists' impressions show wooden lodges with high-glassed windows leading out on to a sizeable decking area, nestled among lush greenery.
The plans come just weeks after Alton Towers submitted proposals to build 150 accommodation lodges as part of a new 'fairytale' holiday village.
The development at Trentham is more aligned to the natural woodland theme with a report on the lodges promising that visitors will be 'immersed in the beauty of the historic grounds'.
Tourism experts believe the industry generates 46,000 jobs – both directly and indirectly – across the county. It's estimated the latest development could lead to up to 200 full and part-time new positions.
A number of positions will be up for grabs at the expanded retail area, which will maintain its bespoke style.
Mr Herbert said: "The shopping area is part of the ethos that we have here. We have always wanted to have an eclectic mix of individual shops, some which are a bit quirky alongside some well-known names. It's not about trying to replicate High Street shopping."
However, despite the ongoing success of Trentham Gardens, Mr Herbert concedes they remain at the mercy of the current economic climate before the latest proposals can become a reality.
He said: "We are in a strange economy that seems to be very flat. I would like to think there will be enough movement for us to make some decisions in 2013, and realistically we won't see anything happening and operating until 2014."
But any potential wait has not dampened the enthusiastic response from Trentham's many fans.
Emily Hankey, aged 23, of Crewe, who works as a marketing and distribution manager, said: "The development sounds exciting. I visit Trentham a few times a year, mostly because the shops there offer a different range of stock to other local shopping areas.
"I think it would be excellent to add a few more shops. All the proposed developments seem interesting, and provided they did not impact on the original gardens, I think they would only serve to improve a great local attraction."