Posted: 26/02/2012 12:47:44 by Nigel Nixon

MORE than 60 jobs have been created by hotel owners who are adding the finishing features to their controversial multi-million pound project at the Waterside Hotel, in Grasmere, which is set to open at the end of July after the Victorian venue was part-demolished and doubled in size.

The hotel has been a subject of debate since 2008, when it was purchased by hospitality entrepreneurs Tom Harwood, who died a year ago, and wife Eileen.  The Blackpool pair, who lived in the Lake District for more than 40 years, developed the Stonecross Manor, in Kendal, and the Craig Manor, in Bowness. However they generated hundreds of letters of protest with plans to redevelop the site.

 The Lake District National Park Authority refused the first two alteration plans for the 1855 building, originally called the Prince of Wales. The planning application was opposed by many residents and celebrities including artist Rolf Harris and broadcaster Melvyn Bragg.  However, plans were passed later in 2008 and around 60 workmen have been involved in the development.

“It was Tom’s vision to make a deserving hotel for the area. It was run down and many of the bedrooms faced the road.  Now, almost all the bedrooms will face the lake or look out over the fells in Grasmere. We’ve changed the demographic we are aiming at - now we expect less coach groups and more high paying leisure guests.”

Lakes parish councillor Paul Truelove said: “This is a massive development. The hotel is twice the size of anything else in Grasmere. They’ve done a good job with the way it looks by using reclaimed slate but it’s too early to say if the hotel will cause light pollution across the lake or if the car parking will be adequate for guests and not cause problems in the village.”

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Posted: 26/02/2012 12:46:04 by Nigel Nixon

Fly-tipping could increase if recycling centres in South Lakeland and Eden are closed, protestors claim.

Around 150 people turned out for a public meeting at Ambleside’s household waste recycling centre to oppose Cumbria County Council plans to close six sites in the county. Under the proposals, Ambleside, Kirkby Stephen and Grange would be shut in a bid to cut costs.

But resident Bev Dennison said: “We fought for years to improve facilities at this site. Now we have got them, they want to close it if they get their way. The closure of this centre will mean everybody facing a round trip of 30 to 40 miles to the nearest site at Kendal. At a time when authorities are trying to reduce people’s carbon footprints, it is just absolute madness. Perhaps the site needs a haircut in terms of its opening hours – that would make more sense.”

Windermere county councillor Jo Stephenson said: “We know times are hard but this is the wrong place to make cuts. We have done such a lot of work to encourage people to recycle and regenerate as much as possible, so it would be a terrible step back.”

 Fellow county councillor David Earnshaw added: “This site at Ambleside is so valuable. It is unthinkable that it should close.”

Coun Tim Knowles, cabinet member for environment, said no decision had been made, adding: “The consultation has already produced some interesting ideas, such as looking into the viability of community-run centres or getting trade operators to run some sites on our behalf. As long as we deliver the necessary savings, and our HWRCs can operate safely and effectively, then I’m more than happy to consider any alternatives to outright closure.


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Posted: 26/02/2012 12:42:56 by Nigel Nixon

A Tree which stands in a Lake District wood is the tallest in Cumbria and could be the largest in the North West.

The 57.8-metre giant grand fir in Skelghyll Wood, Ambleside, has also been recorded as the tallest of its species in England, breaking the previous Cumbrian record of 55 metres, which was held by a conifer at Thirlmere.

National Trust ranger John Pring got the idea to get the tree measured and recorded by the National Tree Register charity when driving through Ambleside.

He said: “I’ve driven on that main road (A591) in Ambleside for a long time and I just thought: ‘That really is a very big tree, I wonder how big it is?  We were surprised just how tall it was when we measured it. There are some very big trees in the area but we didn’t realise how tall it actually was. This is just one of the thousands of big old trees the National Trust looks after in the area.”

Mr Pring, who has covered Windermere and Ambleside for 20 years, is now encouraging nature lovers to go to Skelghyll Wood and see the true scale of how tall the trees are for themselves and the grand fir, which was planted in 1860, looks set to continue growing and could push the 60-metre mark unless there are any accidents such as a storm blowing it over.

The tree was measured by tree climbers Mark Sigrift and Mick Lupton of Aspen Tree Management in Witherslack by dropping a long tape measure and using a badminton pole to attach a tape measure.  “It just shows that the tree is happy with the climate there,” said Mr Pring. It’s only 160 years old so it is still growing.”


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