Despite construction works being ongoing, the farm continues to attract ever larger visitor numbers year-on-year over the last three months following earlier improvements last year.
December saw a huge increase in visitor numbers of a staggering 2,906% compared to December 2017 and January had an increase of 220% in visitors compared with January 2018.
February 2019 witnessed 7,266 visitors compared to 1,523 who visited the farm last year at this time.
The latest phase of developments will include a new welcome centre and shop, new café, new soft play, as well as new toilets – one of which is a Changing Places toilet.
A new layout will also come into effect to allow people to go to the café, use the outdoor toddler play area and the soft play room without entering the farm.
New stables and shelters have been built for the horses and donkeys and new fencing is being put up around the farm. Some more play equipment will shortly be arriving which is farm-themed. Children will be able to climb a large cat, cow, pig and hare!
Cllr Denise Rooney, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Environment and Commercial Services, said: “The visitor numbers since last year’s improvements were made are astounding but hopefully a real reflection of the increase of what’s on offer to visitors.
“It’s brilliant to think that we are now just a month away from having the next phase of refurbishments complete in time for spring and we are sure that people will really enjoy them.
“Works are really coming on and you can see how much better the farm will be once complete. It is really exciting to see.”
Plans are also currently being developed to improve and expand the car park and drainage improvement works are taking place around the site.
Planning has now begun to ensure that the farm has first class education and cultural spaces that supports peoples understanding of pre-industrial history of the area, farming and environmental issues.
Changes made last year ahead of the 2018 summer holidays, included the introduction of new farm mascots Daisy and Dan.
Other improvements include the animal discovery barn, which is now staffed and allows farm-goers to hold baby chicklets and pet or get closer to other animals.
Outdoors, new play equipment has been installed in the toddler play area and a junior play space has been created for older visitors with a Viking rope swing, trim trail climbing frame and further swings.
Other new attractions include new go karts with track, small tractors, an improved mini golf course, a sand pit and ‘talking tubes’ installed into the existing maze.
Den building equipment has also been introduced as well as new trails to walk around the site.