REVISED plans for a holiday lodge resort will bring ‘transformational benefits’  to Furness as the area is ‘underperforming’ in terms of the number of visitors, claim tourism bosses.

Cumbria Tourism has responded to revised plans from ILM Group for the Roanhead Lodge Resort which developers say could bring £10 million in additional visitor spending annually to the county.

New plans for the site were lodged in January with Westmorland and Furness Council after previous controversial proposals were withdrawn in December.

The new scaled-back proposals will include the installation of 233 lodges, nearly half the previously proposed 450 lodges for the site, which the developers said would ‘significantly’ reduce the number of visitors to the site and potential associated impacts on the natural environment.

Cumbria Tourism managing director Gill Haigh has sent a letter in response to a consultation.

She said: “We believe this leisure project will bring transformational benefits to

Furness and Barrow, providing a high quality accommodation and leisure offer that will be hugely attractive to Cumbrian visitors with clear benefits for the wider areas and communities of Barrow, Morecambe Bay, the Lake District Coast and the county as a whole.”

A response from Cumbria Tourism added: “Furness is an integral part of the region’s visitor offer but as yet is underperforming in terms of the visitor volume and value.

“Following the recent public consultation, we are aware that the developers have revised this proposal, and we welcome the fact that feedback from a wide range of stakeholders and local residents has been incorporated into a series of measures which the developers feel will mitigate the concerns raised.”

Developers said the resort would create 209 jobs during construction as well as an additional 184 permanent jobs during operation with 164 of these expected on-site at Roanhead Resort. Apprenticeship opportunities would also be offered via a new training academy on the site.

Cumbria Tourism added: “The emerging destination management plan for the county, developed in partnership, sets out a long-term ambition is to grow the value of the visitor economy – enhancing its offer year-round and county-wide visitor offering for the benefit of local businesses, jobs and communities.

“Some of the key priorities include encouraging people to explore less well-known areas of the county, improving the choice and quality of tourism product, and increasing opportunities for inclusive and accessible tourism.

“From Cumbria Tourism’s perspective, this revised proposal for a leisure related tourism development at Roanhead Farm fits with these priorities and it is our view that these modified plans should now be fully considered.”

According to developers, in the new plans ‘buffer zones’ between the resort and designated nature sites have been expanded. Greater protection has also been afforded to the nearby ancient woodland and the construction access to the site has been moved away from this area, said ILM.

In response to concerns raised about potential disturbance to wildlife, dogs will no longer be allowed at the resort.

Andrew Coutts, CEO of ILM Group, said: “We recognise the strength of feeling relating to our previous proposals and have listened intently to feedback, evolving our approach to provide a new masterplan for Roanhead Lodge Resort that is much more balanced and sensitive to the surrounding environment.”

The proposed lodges will be made of sustainable materials with green roof technology and will incorporate low carbon measures, such as high levels of insulation and low carbon heating systems.

Mr Coutts added: “The proposals continue to represent a major opportunity to stimulate the visitor economy locally, create hundreds of jobs, and provide high-quality amenities, which will support the Furness area’s transformation into a thriving place to live, work and visit.

“Dedicated visitor accommodation, with the appropriate infrastructure, facilities, and professional management in place to support it, has an important role to play in this journey, ensuring that economic growth is realised sustainably and that there is a positive impact on the wider community.”

However Cumbrian landscape charity Friends of the Lake District have labelled the plans ‘completely inappropriate’ for the area.

The CEO of the charity Michael Hill said: “The impact of lodges, parking, restaurants and sports facilities on the landscape, along with the additional footfall of thousands more people in a rare, fragile and internationally protected area, teeming with wildlife, is completely inappropriate.

“Locals love coming here to walk and to be in a tranquil, unspoilt, wild and beautiful place, with views to the Lakeland Fells. Traffic on rural lanes, and the risk of sink holes, linked to historic mining activity, are also concerning.

“Over 7,200 people have signed a petition against the proposal but planners will only take into account objections made directly to them. Also responses to the previous application won’t count either.

“We are therefore urging anyone who values Roanhead to make their views known once more, and as soon as possible.”