Theme park's giant inland resort plans

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LIGHTWATER Valley Theme Park wants to create an inland resort with caravans, lodges and a pub in the wood venture on its site near Ripon.

The scheme has sparked protests from parish councils along with 66 individual objections from residents.

Theme park bosses, in a revised submission for outline permission, want to include 204 caravans, 136 lodges, a reception complex and an extension to a Pub in the Wood project, plus a wet weather shelter.

Objectors fear the proposals could lead to overwhelming visitor numbers, traffic problems and disruption to the countryside. 14 local businesses, however, have lent their support.

The application was originally tabled in 1997, then to include a hotel and resort facilities described as the Villa and Crystal Castle. These elements were eventually withdrawn.

In August 2000 Harrogate Borough Council planning councillors approved an application subject to a legal agreement over highway improvements at Ripon Clock Tower, traffic calming in North Stainley, a shuttle bus service from Ripon and a green travel plan.

However, because of what a planners' report describes as "unforeseen circumstance" the agreement was not completed.

Planning officer Neville Watson said: "Issues relating to land ownership have been resolved and the applicants now wish to progress the application."

He said because of the timescales involved full re-consultation had taken place.

When members of Harrogate Borough Council Planning Committee meet to decide the issue on Tuesday, Mr Watson is recommending approval, subject to 18 separate conditions.

Concern has been expressed by a rural strategy officer about siting caravans in a semi-natural ancient woodland.

English Nature is objecting and say there is not enough information to assess the impact on the Ripon Parks Site of Special Scientific Interest.

However, revised details show drainage will not run through the environmentally sensitive site of interest.

The Council for Protection of Rural England believes with the deletion of hotel and leisure facilities the impact on countryside will be reduced.

The Yorkshire Tourist Board accepts the principle of development but has reservations about high density and numbers of pitches planned "and the effect on the quality of the visitor experience."

North Yorkshire County Council's Heritage Unit expresses concern that an archaeological investigation has not been carried out. They are also worried about advance planting close to a scheduled ancient monument.

English Heritage wants the application deferred or refused pending an archaeological evaluation and discussion about landscaping issues.

North Stainley Parish Council has objected for a number of reasons, noting that "the proposals, if accepted, would bring four times the parish population into the area during the summer months.

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