Friday, April 6, 2018

News: Development order to get Gulliver's going

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Keen to start, Gulliver's, the operators of theme parks in Warrington, Matlock Bath and Milton Keynes, is set to enact a Local Development Order (LDO) that will enable work to begin on site for its proposed £37m leisure resort in Rotherham.

Planning permission was granted in March last year for Gulliver's Valley - the first of their sites in the UK to encompass all their major family entertainment elements in one location with new attractions exclusive to Rotherham.

The application for a greenbelt site adjacent to Rother Valley Country Park was not called in by the Government but is subject to a number of conditions. The family-owned firm is hoping to satisfy some of these by submitting further details to the Council.

The firm is now also looking to reduce planning red tape with the creation and adoption of an LDO, a planning tool brought in by the Government to simplfy planning control and speed up development. For example, in Rotherham, LDOs have been adopted which grant conditional planning permission for certain uses in the borough's Enterprise Zones.

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On Gulliver's plans, Chris Wilkins, development manager at Rotherham Council, explained: "They are looking to implement a Local Development Order which allows them to do certain developments on the site without planning permission. There are certain things that you can do at amusement parks without permission anyway under permitted development rights but they want to extend that.

"It is a significant site, it's going to be developed out over ten, 15 years and they don't want to be coming in with applications for every bit of fencing or new little extension put up on the main part of the site. So we, with them, have drafted an order that sets out what we think will be acceptable, subject to conditions and limitations, and we are looking to go out to consultation and publicity on that to allow members of the public, statutory bodies and members, or whoever wants to comment on it, to make those comments.

"Ultimately we will have to come to planning board to get it adopted."

Called Gulliver's Valley, the proposals, which will create around 400 jobs, are for a year round destination aimed at 2 - 13 year olds include a theme park hub, woodland adventure centre, ecology and education centre, lodges, hotels and a holiday village.

As an example of the level of detail in the plans, the latest submitted planning application sets out updated details of the fenestration for the buildings at the heart of the park.

Rotherham Council has long had ambitions for the Pit House West site to be transformed into a landmark leisure / tourism development on a national and international scale. Agreements relating to the YES! project and Visions of China developments were terminated due to the lack of progress.

Gulliver's is purchasing around 250 acres of the restored former colliery and opencast site from Rotherham Council.

Wilkins added: "There were a number of conditions on the permission that required them to submit information to us before they could start development - pre-commencement conditions. They are keen to start work on site. They are keen to get on with it and keen to get the Local Development Order in place so they can start on site."

Phase one includes the main Gulliver's theme park with three themed areas, the entrance hub and castle, and is set to open in 2020.

Gulliver's Valley website

Images: Gulliver's

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