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Cogges Farm set for £100,000 makeover
COGGES Manor Farm is planning to spend £100,000 to build new play areas, revamp the entrance and create a wedding venue.
The Witney tourist attraction, in Church Lane, has submitted planning applications to West Oxfordshire District Council to carry out the work.
If permission is granted, it is hoped the new facilities will be built during the winter closed season ready for the reopening in March.
English Heritage has backed the project, while Witney Educational Fund has provided a grant and local businesses have given help and support.
Money given by Oxfordshire County Council and West Oxfordshire District Council when volunteers took over the site last year will also be used.
Cogges director Colin Shone said: “It is a really exciting project.
“We believe it will bring people in and give a new dimension to Cogges, without losing any of the things that are really important to us.”
The revamp will see old play equipment replaced with a new climbing frame, trailer and tractor, and the courtyard resurfaced.
Mr Shone said: “We want to maintain the character but present a more welcoming start to the visit to Cogges.
“Our café shop is by the entrance and we want it to be a nice place where the local community can meet, chat and watch their kids play and know they are doing it in comfort and safety.”
The money will also improve two currently underused islands on the site that are surrounded by a figure-of-eight Norman moat.
Play equipment, including a climbing frame and zip wire, will be installed on the first island, modelled on a 12th century manor house that once stood there. The second island, which is covered in woodland and currently inaccessible, has been made safe and play equipment and trails will be installed.
Mr Shone said: “We want to encourage people to go down into the moat area and really explore the site and have fun, but also learn about Cogges’ history whilst they are there.”
The final development will see the floor in a wheat barn resurfaced so it can be transformed into a wedding and events venue.
It is hoped the venue will give Cogges a regular income stream.
Mr Shone said: “What we have done at Cogges is dramatically cut the costs and look for a wide range of income streams.
“Cogges will make a loss this year – which was to be expected in the first full season – but the loses have been dramatically reduced and we are on budget, and within a couple of years hope to be breaking even.”