Parks Trust is making waves by buying back Willen Lake South

Dragon boat racing at Willen Lake, Milton Keynes
Dragon boat racing at Willen Lake, Milton Keynes

A top tourist destination in Milton Keynes has been bought back under the control of the Parks Trust.

The Parks Trust has acquired Willen Leisure Ltd and its subsidiary Whitecap Leisure Ltd that have developed a thriving business over the last quarter of a century.

Details of the amount of money involved are being kept confidential by the Campbell Park based Parks Trust, which is a charity.

The Parks Trust intends to invest in the future of Willen Lake South, which attracts more than 1 million visitors a year and features attractions such as sailing, windsurfing, pedaloes and kayaking, mini golf, a high ropes course and water-skiing and fishing.

David Foster, chief executive of The Parks Trust, said: “Whitecap has developed a thriving watersports and leisure business at Willen over the past 25 years or so but we feel now is the time for The Parks Trust to take the operation back in-house and develop plans for future investment in leisure activities and facilities.

“Bringing control of this back within the Trust presents a great opportunity for us. Willen is still the premier outdoor leisure attraction in the area and we want to keep it that way.

“This will require significant reinvestment in the coming years. In particular we want to provide some year round attractions, perhaps including indoor children’s play, more quality food and drink opportunities, better water sports facilities, and improvements to the lake frontage. We think there are opportunities to better integrate the lake into the rest of our park network and cycle hire, camping, walks and runs up and down the Ouzel Valley are all part of our vision.”

James De Savary, former managing director of Whitecap Leisure Ltd, said: “I am delighted that The Parks Trust has purchased Whitecap. The Parks Trust has a wonderful vision for Willen Lake and we feel that they are best placed to make the most of the opportunities that are available. I wish them the best of luck with the project and with Whitecap.”

The three permanent, 12 seasonal and a number of casual staff, will continue to be employed by Whitecap, which is now a subsidiary of The Parks Trust.

The Lake and surrounding parkland also hosts large annual events such as the popular Milton Keynes Dragon Boat Festival, national and international wakeboarding events, a summertime fair and huge corporate Christmas parties.

Parking facilities at Willen will continue to be run by Napier Parking Limited.