18th Nov, 2017

Bear Grylls v HS2.. Theme park faces hold-ups

Felix Nobes 9th Nov, 2017

A £20 million Bear Grylls adventure park could be forced to close or relocate some attractions shortly after the venue opens near the NEC because of HS2, says the high speed rail company.

High Speed Two Ltd (HS2) says some of the attractions at the planned park in Solihull borough – a partnership with the TV ‘survivalist’ – might need to be closed while a monorail “people-mover” link with HS2 station and Birmingham airport is constructed.

Although both parties remain in discussion, a definitive solution to HS2’s construction requirements appears no closer to agreement.

An HS2 Ltd spokeswoman told the Observer the talks centre around whether part of the park – which could have high-up attractions such as zip wires – might need to close or relocate before building begins.

She said some restrictions on construction could be put in place as building the monorail takes precedence.

HS2 Ltd expects to begin construction of the people mover around 2021 and estimate this will take around 12 months.

We understand the building and operation of other parts of the Bear Grylls adventure park from next year will not be affected.

A statement from HS2 Ltd states: “We have worked closely with the NEC Group and operator Merlin to support the development of the adventure park and to ensure that it can continue to operate in a way that does not compromise the construction and operation of Britain’s new high speed rail network”.

Invited to respond, Merlin Entertainments said its “building” will not be affected.

A spokesperson from Merlin said: “We have always been aware of the planned route for HS2 and have consulted with their team throughout the planning process.

“The planned route does not affect our building, and in fact we welcome HS2 as it will bring more visitors and investment to the area.”

We sought further clarification over HS2 Ltd’s comments about construction of the monorail taking precedence over parts of the Bear Grylls adventure park. Merlin did not respond further before we went to press.

The adventure park at Pendigo Way next to the National Exhibition Centre is set to open next year after being approved by Solihull council planning chiefs.

Promoters say the 8,000 square metre attraction will take inspiration from Bear’s real-life adventures across mountains, deserts and jungles around the world.

Visitors will walk in the famous survivalist’s footsteps and be able to attempt diving, rock climbing, and iFLY (indoor skydiving) as well as zip-lining or tackling Europe’s highest free-roam high ropes.

Bear Grylls himself has spoken excitedly about the new adventure park: “It has been an unbelievable journey to work with Merlin Entertainments to bring so many iconic, one-of-a-kind adventures, all together under one roof.”

Promoters say Bear Grylls is one of the most recognised and celebrated adventurers in the world with global media distribution in over 180 countries, reaching an estimated 1.2 billion people.

Grylls’ fame could be an indicator of the success of the new adventure park and on Twitter, news of its arrival has sparked widespread excitement.

In a reaction to Grylls’ own tweet, a fan page wrote “That’s AWESOME! Congratulations!!!!!!! You’re the BEST, Bear!”

Another tweet reacted with surprise to the bold plans: “Did someone say zip lining from a chinook helicopter? Did I hear that right?”

Prices and activity time will vary for different activities with Basecamp entry tickets starting at £25.

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