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70 holiday lodges approved for Delamere forest
CONTROVERSIAL plans to construct a series of log cabins in Delamere Forest have been given the go ahead, subject to the approval of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Plans to reorganise the forest’s existing visitor hub facility to provide a replacement visitor centre and the construction of 70 luxury holiday cabins at the northern end of the forest were put forward by Forest Holidays and the Forestry Commission and gained the backing from eight of Cheshire West and Chester Council's (CWAC) strategic planning committee yesterday, Thursday.
Only Marbury ward member clr Norman Wright voted against the scheme as he felt it would 'damage the forest considerably’.
Members of Communities Against Delamere’s Destruction (CADD) made their objections known at yesterday’s meeting, displaying placards reading ‘Say No For Delamere’ and presented a petition containing 3,618 signatures.
CADD co-founder Nigel Gilding told the committee they had the chance to defend Delamere and prevent its ‘gradual erosion’.
He also made reference to a condition offered by the applicant, which would see the removal of the lodges should the visitor centre not ‘come forward’ within five years.
Mr Gilding said: “The term ‘come forward’ does not mean completed – there is an enormous difference between the two.
“I’m a realist and I can tell you now that once those lodges are in situ, there will be little appetite for planners to enforce a condition to have them removed in five years.
“Over 90 per cent of representations in this case oppose this development, when combined with the petition that has been presented, the people of Cheshire West and Chester have sent a very clear signal to this council.
“You have an opportunity to defend Delamere because once it’s gone, it’s gone.”
Clr Keith Butcher, who voted in favour of the scheme, said: “It is not a set of concrete blocks, it is not a pop festival. It is not a Butlins and it is not a motorway service station area.
“In fact, it is a development in a facility which is enjoyed, quite understandably, by residents but also by a much wider community.
“It seems to me there will be a gain, not a loss, of amenity because it will be possible for people from a wider area to come and enjoy this facility – they will be able to stay in an area of tranquillity.
“Any maintenance of the forest will require resources.
“In today’s world, we don’t have the luxury of unlimited resources to actually undertake that work and for this reason the Forestry Commission has looked into an imaginative way in which they can retain the tranquillity of this site and at the same time achieve sustainability and I think this is a happy marriage of those requirements.”
Following the council’s approval for the scheme, Mr Gilding said: “We didn’t stand a chance, it became very obvious, very quickly that we were fighting a foregone conclusion.
“When four of the nine councillors present state that they think the lodges will ‘enhance the forest, you know you’re in trouble.”
The final say on the matter will now go to the national planning casework unit as the proposed development contravenes the local plan with regards to greenbelt policy.
The HSE will also have to be consulted further as they had objected to the lodge development on the grounds of public safety due to the proximity of a hazardous fuel pipeline that runs south of the proposed site.