Trentham Gardens toasts record year for visitor numbers
TRENTHAM Gardens has brushed aside gloomy weather and a grim economic climate to record yet another annual increase in visitor numbers.
The popular tourist attraction welcomed more than 405,000 paying visitors last year, up from 400,000 in 2011 and 316,000 in 2010.
Mike Herbert, regional director of St Modwen, which runs the Trentham Estate, hailed the destination's success.
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He said: "The Trentham Estate has had another successful year and, despite the exceptionally bad summer weather, has maintained its visitor numbers compared to a lot of other outdoor visitor attractions which have had a drop during 2012.
"The shopping village at the Trentham Estate continues to perform very well with all units occupied and turnover levels continuing to improve.
"Active management and positive promotion help maintain the estate as a whole as a very successful destination."
St Modwen sparked controversy in 2009, when it brought in charges for walking around the attraction's lake.
But despite more than 7,000 people objecting to the move, visitor numbers have continued to rise. On average the Trentham Estate attracts around three million visitors every year.
As well as the Trentham Estate, Birmingham-based St Modwen is behind many of North Staffordshire's highest-profile developments including Etruria Valley, Trentham Lakes and more recently, Phoenix Retail Park – which is due to be sold to a private investor in an £8.3 million move to be completed in March.
And Mr Herbert, below, says he is confident 2013 will see St Modwen repeat the success of previous years, with housing developments in the pipeline for the former Victoria Ground, in Stoke, and at Trentham Lakes.
Earlier this year the company – which reported an overall profit of £52.8 million last year – submitted planning applications to build 113 homes at the former Stoke City football ground and a further 300 houses in Trentham Lakes.
Other proposals include plans to create a £150 million science and innovation campus at Swansea University.
Mr Herbert said: "St Modwen's strength in delivering good quality schemes has again been demonstrated at the Phoenix Retail Park in Longton, which was completed in May.
"It has been fully let during the second half of 2012 and occupiers include Pets at Home, Smyths Toys, Currys and PC World."
He added: "St. Modwen continues to actively pursue consents for residential development within the North Staffordshire area with a joint application with Persimmon made in December for the former Victoria Ground in Stoke.
"An early decision is expected on the 30 acre site at Trentham Lakes earlier in the year."
As well as the gardens, garden centre and shopping village, the Trentham Estate is home to Trentham Monkey Forest, which sees macaque monkeys roaming free in the estates grounds and trees, and Aerial Extreme.
Shopper Ellen Hulme, aged 21, from Stafford, is among the hoards of visitors who adore the attraction.
She said: "There is an excellent range of quirky and unique shops and it is a great place to walk around.
"It also attracts a lot of people from outside of Staffordshire."
Forty eight-year-old Julie Tremble, of Trentham, added: "It is definitely a place for people of all ages. There is something for everyone and is great value for money.
"It is an enjoyable day out. I often go down for a cup of coffee and a cake."