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£500,000 for riding centre at the park

Plans to create tea rooms and a riding centre for disabled people at a popular country park in Bingley have received a £500,000 boost.

Bradford Independent Health Care Group, which is based at St Ives Estate, is set to invest more than £500,000 in the Home Farm area of the grounds.

It aims to convert redundant farm buildings into a 30-horse riding centre and build a tea room in the old barn for visitors to the estate. Bradford Council carried out an extensive marketing exercise to find a suitable developer for Home Farm and the health care company has now submitted planning applications for its proposals.

Council Leader Margaret Eaton welcomed the deal and the improved facilities it will provide for visitors.

"The estate is very popular with visitors, many of them walkers, so I'm pleased that the agreement with Bradford Independent Health Care will ensure that they have a place to take a rest and get a cup of tea.

"Our consultations about the future of the estate showed that people were very keen to see the area opened up for more public use, and new facilities such as a tea room are a key to achieving that."

The company restored St Ives' old mansion several years ago, converting it into a unit for young disabled people, and sees this latest agreement as a way of extending its commitment to the estate.

Owner Grant Stephenson said: "It is our intention to have the tea room facilities open to the public by this time next year and we are proposing to open the riding centre in two phases - the first phase in June this year and the second 12 months later."

Mr Stephenson said the proposal also included bringing in some small animals and an organic vegetable patch for the residents to tend.

Bradford Council is currently talking to the Heritage Lottery Fund about funding to transform St Ives into a country park with deer roaming the estate.

As part of the development plans, the council has also enlarged the site used by the archery club, leased an additional field to the Sports Turf Research Institute and sold a small strip of land next to Harden Cricket ground to the club.

Councillor Anne Hawkesworth, executive member for the environment, said: "I'm pleased that a local company, which already has strong ties to St Ives, has been chosen."

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