Plan for massive theme park expansion rejected

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LIGHTWATER Valley theme park has been refused planning permission for a major holiday development on its site near Ripon.

The scheme, which could have led to the siting of 204 caravans and 136 holiday lodges at the park, had been recommended for approval by Harrogate Borough Council planning officer Neville Watson.

But members of the planning committee, meeting this week, voted by 10 - 4, with one abstention, to refuse the plan.

Mr Watson described it as a substantial new development in the countryside. The central issue, he said, was visual impact of the development which had to be balanced against the long-term future of Lightwater Valley and the economic benefits it created.

Mr Watson considered the principle of holiday accommodation was acceptable and recommended conditional approval.

Agents for Lightwater Valley emphasised that established benefits from the business to the local economy included a substantial number of full and part-time jobs. There was also spin offs, direct and indirect, to the local economy from local spending.

The agents added: "This is a time of change for the leisure industry which must respond to the market.

"The last 18 months has seen at least five national theme parks closed or closing. The investment proposed by our clients and changes envisaged will consolidate and expand benefits of employment and income to the local economy," said Mr John Goodwin, of property consultants Carter Jonas.

But objectors were concerned about the increase in traffic and ward councillor for the area, Mrs Margaret Atkinson, said if the development went ahead nearby North Stainley would be swamped with traffic.

She pointed out there were already hundreds of caravans in the area.

A spokesman for Lightwater Valley said there would only be a two per cent increase in traffic over a 15 year period.

North Stainley with Sleningford Parish Council opposed the development and said it was an extraordinary proposal that should not be allowed to happen.

Meanwhile, Azereley Parish Council felt "the whole area" would be swamped by such an increase in visitors. It was concerned that the local infrastructure would be unble to cope with additional journeys in pedestrian and vehicle movements.

The planning application sparked 66 letters. Some expressed concern that Palace Road in Ripon was unsuitable for carrying any increase in traffic generated by the development.

The Clock Tower junction with Palace Road was said to be already over used with any extra developments worsening the problem, causing harm to residential amenity, pointed out one objector.

Another said the development would have an irreversible effect on the local environment.

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