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: 20/09/2011 10:06:53 by Nigel Nixon

The eight short-listed design teams have been announced for a competition to redevelop the Windermere Steamboat Museum on the shores of Windermere.

The Lakeland Arts Trust recently secured initial support for a £7.4m Heritage Lottery Fund bid, including £494,000 development funding, to take the project forward. The project aims to create an exciting and active museum which will use the lake and the lakeside setting to display the nationally significant collection of steam launches, motor boats, yachts and other vessels which are all associated with Windermere.

The first stage of the competition attracted 114 expressions of interest. The short-list (in order of the architect leading the multi-disciplinary design team) is as follows: Carmody Groarke; Adam Khan Architects; Niall McLaughlin Architects; Terry Pawson Architects; Reiach and Hall Architects; 6a Architects; Sutherland Hussey Architects; Witherford Watson Mann Architects.

Martin Ainscough, Chairman of the Lakeland Arts Trust, commented: “We are very encouraged by the quality of entries in the architectural competition and the judging panel had a difficult decision to select the final eight for the shortlist. We are looking forward to working with the successful practice to create a world class facility in the heart of the Lake District..”

Gordon Watson, the trust’s chief executive, added: “We are looking for a fresh, well-detailed and sensitive response for the stimulating and highly significant site on Windermere and to display the museum's wonderful collection of boats.”

The second stage of the competition will seek design concepts for the project. Architects will need to take into account the requirement of displaying the boats and other items in the collection in the exhibition space and wet dock, and enabling visitors to see the boats being restored in the conservation workshop, as well as designing an appropriate facility for the location to provide a world-class visitor experience.

The design proposals will be subject to public display and comment in late October 2011 and the design teams will be invited to present their schemes to the jury panel at final interviews in late November 2011.

 

Tagged with: steambost, windermere, museum


Posted: 18/09/2011 13:01:40 by Nigel Nixon

A 250-mile walk between Settle and Hadrian’s Wall could become as popular as the Coast-to-Coast, enthusiasts believe.

The circular route is one of Alfred Wainwright’s earliest walks and a campaign is gathering pace to have it included on Ordnance Survey maps.

Later this month, a plaque will be unveiled at Settle Railway Station, identifying the site as the start of the trek.

In 1938, a 31-year-old Wainwright caught a train from Blackburn to Settle, before embarking on the walk, which took about 11 days.

From the detailed notes from his 210-mile hike, he wrote a book, called A Pennine Journey – The Story of a Long Walk, which lay unpublished until 1988, shortly before his death.

The book is widely regarded as the work that gave Wainwright the confidence to go on and produce another 59 illustrated books and guides for walkers.

Now the Wainwright Society wants to make the route as well-known and well-used as the Coast-to-Coast, which was devised by the author in 1973.

Derek Cockell, from the group, said: “Apart from trying to enhance the work of Alfred Wainwright, another of our aims is to bring some economic benefits to the communities which lie along his routes, and getting this route recognised would certainly do that.

“This part of the country is such wonderful walking country and it is not as well-known as other areas, but it should be. This route could quite easily be as significant as the Coast-to-Coast or the Pennine Way.”

When Wainwright’s book was published in 1988, society member David Pitt altered the walk slightly to ensure it was entirely on public footpaths. The amended route, which is 247 miles long, takes in North Yorkshire, County Durham and Cumbria.

“Our first objective is to get the entirety of the route waymarked on the ground,” said Mr Cockell. “The second objective would be to have the route marked on Ordnance Survey maps, because that really would pull people in.”

The group is working with local authorities, land-owners and other groups to move the project forward.

The commemorative plaque will be unveiled on Saturday, September 24, the same date that Wainwright arrived in Settle to begin his Pennine Journey.

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