Country parks and parks projects

Country parks and parks projects

Visiting country parks, parks and countryside sites represents one of the most popular forms of recreation in the UK.

Find out more about our country park and parks projects here and other projects here.

Planning Solutions Consulting has worked on a range of the country park, greenspace, forest and park projects – from preparing business plans through to support National Heritage Lottery Fund projects, assessing strategic development opportunities to increase visitor numbers, dwell-time and visitor spend and undertaking operational reviews to manage visitor flows and enhance income generation.  We have also carried out feasibility studies for introducing high ropes, cafes and visitor accommodation within country parks. Some of the clients we have worked with include:

  • Buckinghamshire County Council
  • East Dorset District Council
  • Forestry Commission
  • Hampshire County Council
  • Homes and Communities Agency
  • Huntingdonshire District Council
  • Kent County Council
  • Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council
  • Monmouthshire County Council
  • Natural Resources Wales
  • Rushcliffe Borough Council
  • South Downs National Park

Find out more about about – Parks and Nature Reserves: A Twin Track Approach for Recovery and Strategic Planning (opens as a PDF document).

Our clients have been appreciative of our work: “Planning Solutions Consulting worked with us to evaluate the market for Hampshire County Council’s country parks and produce recommendations on how these could be transformed, together with cost and income analysis and projections. Their experience and contacts within the visitor attraction market have been of great benefit. They were able to start work quickly to capture results from a busy period at the parks and consulted with a large number and variety of stakeholders within a tight timescale. We were regularly kept informed and deadlines were met. The team are very approachable and worked as if they were part of our programme team. They have responded positively to requests at short notice and always happy to discuss any aspects of their reports. Work has also been delivered within budget. I have enjoyed working with this consultancy and would have no hesitation in recommending them.” Stephanie Rogers, Programme Manager, Country Parks Transformation, Hampshire County Council

Contact us
If you have any questions or would like to discuss our work within the country parks and parks sector please don’t hesitate to call Richard Linington on 023 9248 1999 or email richard@pslplan.co.uk

Visitor centre and visitor attraction projects – visitor attraction consultants

Visitor centre and visitor attraction projects – visitor attraction consultants

Planning Solutions Consulting has worked as visitor attraction consultants on a range of visitor attraction and visitor centre projects from aquariums through to farm parks, museums, heritage centres, castles, steam railways and forest experience.

We work with both existing attractions and new developments. With existing attractions a significant amount of our work focuses on operational reviews and working with client teams to identify new opportunities to enhance the visitor experience, increase visitor numbers, dwelltime and income.  For new proposed attractions and visitor centres our work focuses on options appraisals, market assessments, feasibility studies, advising on governance and business planning.  We also carry out primary research and prepare (and implement) marketing strategies. One of our directors was responsible for marketing and launching new products at CONKERS for 13 years.  Find out more about our visitor centre and visitor attraction projects here and other projects here.

Our sister company, Planning Solutions Limited, has invested in and manages a discovery centre and a number of other visitor experiences. These include CONKERS a 120-acre woodland experience with two visitor centres in the National Forest, the National Brewery Centre (formerly the Bass Museum), which is integrated within the wider working Molson Coors Brewery site in Burton upon Trent, Kent Life – a heritage farm park in Maidstone and the Cotswold Beach and Country Park along with a hotel, microbrewery and three breanded high ropes experiences.  

We bring direct operational experience of running visitor attractions, (event spaces, activity experiences, cafes, retail, volunteer programmes, membership schemes and education services) a microbrewery and tourist accommodation. This ensures that future planning is based upon real world experience. It means our team understands the challenges faced by operators of visitor and community businesses (particularly in the time of COVID-19) and how to develop projects which are sustainable, meet the needs of the visitor and community and respond to other needs such as education, learning, volunteering, and contributing towards placemaking and the local economy. As a team, we bring critical analysis and provide robust independent advice.

Our clients have been appreciative of our work: “Planning Solutions Consulting Limited were contracted by Natural Resources Wales to undertake a short exercise examining the potential, opportunities and risks around running visitor centres. We found Planning Solutions Consulting to be efficient and thorough, applying their expertise in a professional manner throughout. They were able to add value for us to the contract, by suggesting new elements. The draft and final reports were of an excellent standard and addressed all aspects of our brief well. Communications throughout – and since – the contract have been great – the team were approachable, reachable and able to answer queries and address new points well.” Roz Owen, Recreation and Access Manager, Natural Resources Wales

Contact us
If you have any questions or would like to discuss our work within the visitor centre and visitor attractions sectors please don’t hesitate to call Richard Linington on 023 9248 1999 or email richard@pslplan.co.uk

Watersports, activity centres and adventure tourism projects

Watersports, activity centres and adventure tourism projects

Planning Solutions Consulting has worked on a number of activity centre, watersports and adventure tourism projects from high rope experiences through to residential activity centres, watersports centres, indoor climbing centres and adventure tourism destination development plans for regions.

Our work has focussed on preparing business plans to support the development of new activity-based developments through to exploring how to increase customer numbers and income generated at centres, product development and setting out cost-effective marketing initiatives and regional strategic development and destination management plans.

Find out more about our watersports, activity centre and strategic development projects here and other projects here.

Some of the clients we have worked with include:

  • Blackpool Council
  • Charitable Trust
  • Cumbria Tourism
  • Forestry England
  • Hartlepool Borough Council
  • Hampshire County Council
  • Havant Borough Council
  • Link4Life
  • Park in the Past
  • Private developer
  • PSL
  • Swansea City Council
  • Thanet District Council
  • Tourism South East
  • Wokingham Borough Council
  • Youth organisation

Our sister company operates three branded high ropes visitor experiences and a family watersports offer at the Cotswold Country Park and Beach.

How can we help?

If you have any questions or would like to discuss our work within the activity sector please don’t hesitate to call Richard Linington on 023 9248 1999 or email richard@pslplan.co.uk

Museum and heritage projects

Museum and heritage projects

Museum income generationAs museum business planning consultants, we have worked on a range of projects across the museum and wider heritage sectors. A significant amount of our work is focussed on helping clients to create more resilient organisations. This can take many forms, from enhancing governance arrangements including partnership working, through to identifying and assessing opportunities to generate additional income, reducing expenditure, marketing initiatives, developing the capacity of Trusts and organisations and evaluating opportunities related to physical development.

Whilst a number of museums, heritage and other sites can attract high levels of footfall, they face a number of significant financial challenges. The conservation and restoration of the historic fabric buildings (and collections) is ongoing, the cost of seemingly small repair jobs can quickly escalate. This can often only be met through an injection of large capital investment, which in part can potentially be sourced through the National Heritage Lottery Fund, private donations and philanthropy.

Museums and heritage organisations have also suffered from cuts to core funding which not only impacts on the ability to plan for the future but also on the day-to-day operation of the sites which they manage. This can lead to an under-investment in the individual sites and long-term maintenance and repairs can be impacted on which in turn may lead to a decline in the quality of the visitor experience.

It is important to recognise that creating a more resilient organisation is not without its own challenges. Additionally, some museums and heritage organisations also have a small core team of professional staff, which may only have limited ‘staff resource’ to take on new projects. It takes investment, specific resources (often including recruiting new staff with specialist capabilities), it takes time to build capacity and potentially a change in the culture of the organisation.  Find out more about our heritage and museum projects here.

Some of the museum and heritage projects we have worked on include:

  • Forty Hall Estate, Enfield Council: Preparation of a business development study with financial analysis
  • Novium Museum, Chichester District Council: Post-opening operational review and production of a marketing action plan
  • Moira Furnace Museum and Country Park, North West Leicestershire District Council: Market assessment and options appraisal
  • Tenby Museum and Art Gallery Museum: Governance evaluation and location assessment
  • Tenby Museum and Art Gallery Museum: Income generation
  • The Pavilion Gardens, High Peak Borough Council/Staffordshire Moorlands District Council: Operational review and income generation
  • 22-heritage assets, Southampton City Council: Identification and evaluation of the income generation potential of heritage assets
  • George Eliot Visitor Centre, Warwickshire County Council: Business plan for a George Elliot Heritage Centre
  • Carew Castle and Tidal Mill, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority: Business Plan

While we don’t prepare activity plans, interpretation plans or designs, we regularly work with activity planners, interpretation experts, conservation architects and designers.

Added value: Direct operational experience
Our sister company, Planning Solutions Limited, has invested in and manages a number of heritage attractions and other visitor centres. These include the National Brewery Centre (formerly the Bass Museum), which is integrated within the wider working Molson Coors Brewery site in Burton upon Trent, Kent Life – a heritage farm parks in Maidstone, CONKERS a discovery centre in the National Forest and the Cotswold Beach and Country Park. PSL is responsible for all aspects of managing these businesses from staffing through to marketing and day-to-day operations. This includes the catering, retail, events, education, guided tours, collections, corporate activities and all other activities.

Clients have said a few words about our work:
“We commissioned PSC to support our client team comprising County Council officers, and volunteers from the George Eliot Fellowship, and Griff House Preservation Trust, to develop a viable business plan for a new Visitor Centre devoted to the author, based at Griff House, just outside Nuneaton. The work involved close collaboration and consultation with the Trust and wider Eliot stakeholders to work through the business plan and also deliver a longer-term vision and development plan for related Eliot attractions in the area. Throughout the process we found Richard and Kevin accessible, reliable and great to work with, always meeting agreed deadlines. Their work on the options appraisal was extremely thorough and well-informed, drawing both on their valuable in-house operational management experience of running heritage attractions, as well as case studies from other centres across Britain. The final report has been extremely well received and we’re looking forward to sharing the findings more widely at a workshop later this year. I would have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending PSC to undertake similar work.” Alex Holmes, Visitor Economy Manager, Warwickshire County Council

“Planning Solutions Consulting offered a responsive service in the review of Pavilion Gardens, bringing to the project a large range of experience in the visitor attraction marketplace. They advised on current performance and assessed it against best practise, using relevant examples of how performance was increased elsewhere. They made several on site visitors and worked with HPBC on assessing the options for any operational changes which might have complimented the pending construction project. They helped increase HPBC understanding of the asset itself and its place within the wider context of visitor attraction and hospitality.” Paul Hare, Assets Manager High Peak Borough Council/Staffordshire Moorlands District Council

Contact us
If you have any questions or would like to discuss our business planning and income generation work within the heritage and museum sector please don’t hesitate to call Richard Linington on 023 9248 1999 or email richard@pslplan.co.uk

Commercial leisure projects

Commercial leisure projects

Commercial leisure business planningAs with accommodation our work in commercial leisure dates back to when we were part of the Rank Group in the early 1990s and we worked with Odeon Cinemas, Jumpin’ Jaks and the large scale multiplex entertainment centres. Our work helped to identify commercial opportunities to enhance income generation through better understanding of market behaviour and preferences.

The most important aspect of appraising a new commercial leisure facility, whether it’s a cinema, bowling complex or golf range, is to assess the available market and to relate the demographic data to the competitive landscape. This can often involve complex modelling if a development project incorporates mixed tourism, leisure and other commercial activities along with residential development on the same site, albeit in zoned areas. Find out more about our commercial leisure projects here and other projects here.

Some of the clients we have worked with include:

  • Benson Marina
  • Gwynedd Council
  • Havant Borough Council
  • Kuwait National Cinema Company
  • Private sector investors
  • Southampton City Council
  • South Tyneside Council
  • St Modwen
  • Top Golf
  • Westmorland Group

Contact us
If you have any questions or would like to discuss our work within commercial leisure sector please don’t hesitate to call Richard Linington on 023 9248 1999 or email richard@pslplan.co.uk