Mepal Outdoor Centre set to reopen after sitting empty for nearly two years

The initial partial reopening of the Mepal Outdoor Centre is planned for 2019. PHOTO: Helen Drake

The initial partial reopening of the Mepal Outdoor Centre is planned for 2019. PHOTO: Helen Drake - Credit: Archant

The Mepal Outdoor Centre is set to partially reopen next year, nearly two years after it closed following an arson attack.

The 30-acre outdoor centre, off the A142 near Chatteris, closed down after it was targeted by vandals during Christmas week in December 2016, who had stolen change from a vending machine before setting it on fire.

The blaze reportedly caused hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of structural damage to the building as well as smoke damage.

The much-loved facility, which boasts a 22-acre lake, climbing wall and giant ropes frame, had been used by schools, youth groups and charities who stayed at the centre’s in-house accommodation block with 38 beds and a staff flat.

Thousands of youngsters would enjoy a number of outdoor activities, such as sailing, archery, canoeing and rock climbing.

After the arson attack, trustees of the Mepal Outdoor Centre - who had been running the charitable enterprise for four years - handed the lease back to landlords East Cambridgeshire District Council and the centre was closed down in February 2017.

But a council spokesman said a new operator had been selected to run the Mepal Outdoor Centre earlier this year.

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Bill Hunt, chairman of the council’s asset development committee, said the operator - who has not yet been named - is involved in running similar operations in other parts of the country.

He added: “Forward planning and mapping out the future have been progressing well and this will now gather speed.”

The initial partial reopening is planned for 2019 and the first areas likely to open are the lake, the high ropes course, the grounds and the main reception and activity building.

Officers are due to report to the asset developments committee with more details on the future of the centre on Monday, October 15.

“This a valuable recourse not just for East Cambridgeshire but a large part of East Anglia,” said Mr Hunt.

“We need the re-birth of the facility to be properly managed so it’s future can be assured.

“The damage was extensive so re-building will not happen overnight,” he added.