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Full steam ahead for miniature railway expansion plans

PUBLISHED: 17:01 10 June 2019 | UPDATED: 17:01 10 June 2019

The Audley End miniature railway is a mile and a half long  Picture: PAUL GEATER

The Audley End miniature railway is a mile and a half long Picture: PAUL GEATER

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An Essex family attraction has been given the go-ahead to create a huge, bespoke adventure play area and expand its offering.

Views around Audley End House and Gardens  Picture; ANDREW MUTIMERViews around Audley End House and Gardens Picture; ANDREW MUTIMER

As well as a 700sq m natural play space, Audley End Miniature Railway, based at Saffron Walden, has been given the planning green light to extend its café and shop.

Audley Estate is home to a miniature railway which runs for a mile and a half through its woodlands.

The attraction, built by Lord Baybrooke and now run by his daughter, Amanda Murray, was opened to the public in 1964 by motor racing legend Sir Stirling Moss.

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The new adventure area is designed by natural, outdoor play specialists CAP.Co, which designs and builds organic and wooden play spaces which fit with the landscape and topography in which they are set.

An artist's impression of the Audley End play area and new facilities  Picture; AUDLEY ENDAn artist's impression of the Audley End play area and new facilities Picture; AUDLEY END

Under the plans, the refreshment area will double in size to make it more attractive and comfortable for visitors. The capacity of the café, which features locally sourced and produced menus, will increase from 80 to 160 covers.

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The woodlands, designed by eighteenth century landscape architect, Capability Brown, feature fairies and elves, whose miniature homes are dotted through the trees. The attraction is also home to a large collection of teddy bears.

Ms Murray, who took over the running of the site eight years ago from her late father welcomed the council's decision.

An artist's impression of the Audley End play area  Picture; AUDLEY ENDAn artist's impression of the Audley End play area Picture; AUDLEY END

"We are delighted that permission has been granted for the new adventure area and café expansion," she said.

"This will enable us to offer an even more magical experience for our younger visitors and more of our local, delicious refreshments for our visiting families."

"Audley End is a place of such important and historic beauty it was vital that we work closely with our designers to ensure that the plans respond to and complement the natural beauty of the setting.

"We are confident that the designs have achieved this and we look forward to the work commencing and ultimately welcoming our visitors to enjoy the new facilities once complete."

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