Posted: 27/09/2011 08:27:25 by Nigel Nixon
THE man behind one of Cumbria’s biggest tourist attractions has launched a stinging attack on councillors for blocking his £4 million plan to almost treble its size.

David Gill, who runs the multi -award winning South Lakes Wild Animal Park, at Dalton-in-Furness, has accused Barrow Borough Council of ‘stifling’ entrepreneurial spirit in the Furness area.

He believes his project would – * create 45 new jobs * bring elephants and ‘big cats’ such as jaguars to the park for the first time * improve housing for existing animals * add a children’s farm * revamp visitor facilities, including a large car park and a new steam train to take visitors around the park Mr Gill is frustrated that the council has not ruled on his planning application after a year – although it is minded to reject it.

Now he has asked the Government’s planning inspectorate to intervene and make a decision.

The borough council’s planning committee believes the project would be an over-development of a greenfield site and cause traffic problems for residents of Melton Terrace, off the A590, where the new entrance would be located.

And it says that part of the reason it has taken so long to resolve the matter is because some of the application details were not clear enough.

Mr Gill, 50, who set up the park 17 years ago, said: “I have lived here all my life and these councillors are the most backward-looking people you could come across.

“How a positive project, which would create jobs and bring more people to the area in such desperate economic times as these, could be refused beggars belief.”

He added: “At the moment we have four different car parks and up to 4,000 people a day trying to cross a busy 60mph road to get to the park. With our new plans we could have them all on one piece of land.”

And he warned that the zoo, which is one of Cumbria’s top five visitor attractions, would stagnate if it did not grow.

“In this day and age, if you don’t go forwards you are going backwards.”

The zoo is already home to a variety of animals, including giraffes, rhinos, lions and lemurs and runs two animal conservation charities which aim to protect vulnerable species such as Sumatran tigers.

Mr Gill’s plan has been backed by Cumbria Tourism managing director Ian Stephens, who said: ''The park provides one of many good reasons for visiting the Furness peninsula and has brought important benefits into the area in terms of employment, and tourist expenditure.

“The expansion plans are to be encouraged and have a close fit with the tourism strategy for Cumbria. We're sure that most people will be in favour of bringing increased employment and income to the area and as such we hope that the planning issues can be overcome".

John Millar, chairman of Dalton with Newton Parish Council, which opposed the plans, said councillors were not against expansion or creating jobs but were worried about access.

“We are concerned about traffic flow and the impact this could have on the surrounding rural area,” he said Coun Ann Thomson, chairman of Barrow’s planning committee told the Gazette: “We are not in the business of stifling entrepreneurialism – we wouldn’t dream of doing that.”

She said members had particular concerns that the car park would ‘stand out like a sore thumb’ on the hillside and it was still unclear how it would be masked by landscaping.

Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock said: “Safety should never be compromised, but I hope these concerns can be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.

“The wildlife park is one of this area’s big-pull attractions with lots of potential to expand and create more jobs in the years ahead.”

The final decision will be made by secretary of state for local government and communities Eric Pickles following advice from the planning inspectorate.

A ruling is likely to be made next spring.


Tagged with: lakeland, park, south, aniaml


Posted: 04/06/2011 10:16:05 by Nigel Nixon

A GOVERNMENT appointed planning inspector has ruled that an ancient Lake District fell pass is out of bounds for motorised vehicles.

The decision by the Secretary of State to make Garburn Pass, between Troutbeck and Kentmere, a ‘restricted byway’ follows three years of legal argument.

It means that any motorist or motorcyclist using the pass is committing a criminal offence and could face serious legal consequences.

The inspector went through hundreds of pages of documents ranging from maps of 1822, guide books of the 1880s, and photographs of motorbikes using the pass in the 1920s.

The Lake District National Park Authority has also announced that thanks to around £55,000 of Government funding invested in repairs following the 2009 floods, the pass is probably in better condition than it has been for hundreds of years.

“The storms of November 2009 badly damaged both sides of the pass, especially the western side where the track effectively became a river, and most of the surface ended up on the main road,” said National Park Countryside Access Adviser Nick Thorne.

“We were able to obtain significant funding under the Paths for the Public Project, funded by Defra, the Rural Development Programme for England, and Cumbria County Council. And we have now completely rebuilt the worst affected areas in three stages with the work being carried out by our own staff, the National Trust, and a local contractor.”



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