Ashton Court Estate set to get woodland aerial rope obstacle course despite concern over ‘harmful impact’

Historic England has raised concern - but is not objecting to the proposal

Plans have been lodged for an aerial ropes course on parkland at the Ashton Court Estate - and Historic England won’t stand in its way despite concern over a ‘modest harmful impact’ to the park.

Adventure Bristol is behind the planning application for a five-course attraction which would feature 45 challenges - including a number of tree-to-tree ziplines and a ‘quick jump’ - in woodland in front of Summerhouse Plantation, behind the Ashton Court mansion.

There would also be a forest shelter and cabin built, which would act as a reception for the 30 to 40 users each day. Cars would park at Clifton Lodge Golf course, the mansion’s car park and Church Lodge.

The company runs a similar facility at the Wild Place Project, and it is hoped the attraction will help generate valuable revenue for Bristol City Council, which owns the land.

In a supporting document, representatives of Adventure Bristol said it would have ‘littler overall impact’ on the Ashton Court Esate due to low usage and a lack of visibility.

However, in a letter to North Somerset Council on the planning application, a prinicpal inspector of historic buildings and areas from Historic England said: “[There will] be a modest harmful impact on the significance of the Registered Park. The introduction of noisy activity in a quiet and relatively undisturbed woodland will detract from its peaceful character.”

Map of Ashton Court Estate showing where the rope course would be
Map of Ashton Court Estate showing where the rope course would be
Map of Ashton Court Estate showing where the rope course would be

But Simon Hickman said, on balancing the harm with the financial benefit for the overall estate plus the design of the high-wires and shelter, which will not be visible from the park land, he could not object to the plan.

He did say a condition should be attached to any approval that money raised for the council should be ringfenced for purposes of maintain and improving Ashton Court, not ‘swallowed’ into larger council finances.

Support documents for the planning application also reveal 18 jobs would be created, two full-time and 16part-time.

Alongside the course, Adventure Bristol could also use the area for other activities such as bubble football, archery and team games.

A decision is expected in the coming months.

To view the planning applicaiton, click here and use reference 22/P/1820/FUL.