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Dalton zoo expansion plans are approved by inspector

A FOUR-year saga came to an end yesterday when the South Lakes Wild Animal Park was given the go ahead to expand.

Staff at South Lakes Wild Animal Park celebrate after plans for an expansion at the park were passed by the government, after Barrow Borough Council's decision to refuse the plans was over ruled in the appeals procedure. MILTON HAWORTH REF: 50030099B000

The zoo is set to celebrate its 18th birthday in style after plans for the park to grow by almost three times were given the green light.

Fifteen new jobs are set to be created and park owner, David Gill, has pledged to use only local contractors to carry out the £4m development.

Speaking from his ranch in Wyoming, Mr Gill said the expansion would see some ‘major new arrivals’, with the zoo becoming a ‘flagship attraction’.

He said: “I’m very happy, it’s been a long time in the planning.

“I think the first plans were originally drawn up about four years ago.

“I have an enormous feeling of relief and am so glad that common sense has prevailed.

“There will be a minimum of £4m being spent, and this will go into the local economy.

“All of our contractors are local and they will then obviously spend that money locally.”

National body the Planning Inspectorate yesterday chose to grant planning permission to extend the Dalton zoo.

In July last year, the plans were initially rejected by Barrow Borough Council’s planning committee.

The committee chose to turn down the proposals as they had concerns about the size and character of the development, and about traffic problems which they believed would occur if traffic had to access the park from the proposed new entrance, the U6097, which leads to Melton Terrace.

However, Mr Gill appealed to the Planning Inspectorate, which ruled in his favour.

Independent inspector Paul Dignan ruled the council’s concern that such a large development would have a negative impact on a rural area was outweighed by the benefits of any ‘limited harm’ that would be caused.

He said: “On the matter of noise and disturbance, I accept that there is likely to be an impact on the tranquility of the houses to the west of the proposed car park.

“However, the evidence of the appellant’s noise survey and air quality impact assessment, along with the submitted traffic marshalling plans which can be secured by condition, leads me to conclude that the proposal would not have an unacceptable impact on the living conditions of the residents of Melton House and Melton Terrace.” Karen Brewer, who led the plans as project manager, said the park was a happy place yesterday morning.

She said: “We're relieved. It’s been a long time coming but now is when the hard work starts.

“We are hoping to get cracking within weeks. I think the project will be ongoing over the next few years. From a visitor point of view, by 2013 they should be able to view the new facilities.” Mr Gill added: “This approval safeguards 50 jobs and will bring many new animals to the park as well as giving more space and new habitats to existing animals.

“This May is the zoo's 18th birthday and we are going to celebrate in style now we have this permission to start work immediately.”

Have your say

Another one in the eye for Barrow.

Posted by I Singleton. on 27 February 2012 at 18:31

FairPlay asks what this will mean to the residents of Melton Terrace. In the short-term it will mean some inconvenience and disruption probably with maybe some contraction vehicles travelling through. In the long term it will mean many more vehicles passing through on their way to the zoo.

It seems to me that for the very reason some Dalton residents are moaning that the plans will mean less income for Dalton shops, perhaps an enterprising Melton resident should attempt to open a little shop to exploit the visitors. What is a threat to some is an opportunity to others.

Posted by Ron Creer on 23 February 2012 at 06:26

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