A new £5.6M woodland retreat has been approved
An extension to the popular Warrington theme park has been approved by Warrington Borough Council's planning committee.
Gulliver's new Woodland Retreat will help secure hundreds of existing jobs, create new opportunities and give a significant boost to the local economy. First announced in Autumn 2019, the development will offer unique short breaks for families with young children including themed group accommodation, woodland walks, a camping meadow, children's woodland activity zone, woodland lodges and a spa and relaxation suite. Also included in the plans is a new HQ for staff training and admin support.
Resort plans have been designed to complement existing woodland features,
The 5.8ha Woodland Retreat will expand on the existing popular accommodation at Gulliver's World Theme Park Resort but will be under the Gulliver's Glades brand, with focus on providing holidays in a woodland setting.
The applications were submitted in mid-March and have received support alongside some concerns from local residents. The majority of objections submitted were based on potential noise or ecological impacts. Gulliver's took all feedback on board and addressed concerns directly, including highlighting that resort plans have been designed to complement existing woodland features, eradicate invasive plant species and updated to include planting of up to 3,000 additional native trees.
In recommending approval, the Council's report said:
"The proposed development would allow the applicant to continue to diversify its offering, securing their future viability and would provide a boost to the economy through the creation of jobs and an enhanced leisure/tourist attraction." It continued: "The application complies with the relevant policies of the LPCS and the proposal is sustainable development in accordance with the physical, social and environmental objectives of NPPF…"
County Planning Ltd were the planning consultants for the applications. Commenting on the approvals, director Dan Matthewman said:
"It's a huge success to achieve approval of both applications. The level of public interest in the proposals has been substantial. We've worked tirelessly with the project team and council officers to achieve a scale and mix of development that respects the surrounding area and appropriately balances economic, social and environmental considerations. This is an important development for Gulliver's, but also for the whole town that will provide jobs and economic benefits for many years to come."
Julie Dalton, MD of Gulliver's World commented:
"The pandemic has been a challenging time for our operations. Social distancing measures look set to be in place for some time yet and being able to provide visiting families with clean self-contained accommodation is a really important part of our business plan going forward. The permission aligns our Warrington resort with the range of accommodation and activities on offer at our other three resorts and will help secure over 220 jobs and create 41 new jobs in future. We are very pleased with the outcome."
It is hoped that construction work will start in spring 2021.