A £1.6m watersports adventure park is set to be built across a 55-acre former quarry in Chelford, Cheshire, providing facilities for wakeboarding, swimming, canoeing and paddle boarding.
The plans for the conversion of Hanson Quarry were put forward by Cheshire Lakes Community Interest Company, and were approved by Cheshire East Council’s planning committee yesterday in a close vote in which five members of the panel voted to approved, and five voted to refuse. The casting vote in favour was made by committee chairman Cllr Harold Davenport.
The project has made its way through a convoluted planning process, in which it was first recommended for refusal due to biodiversity issues in July, despite backing from the council’s rural investment team. A committee decision on the scheme was to be delayed to allow for the submission of further information, however on the 24 July the scheme was mistakenly on the agenda and was rejected by five votes to four.
Due to the error the refusal was quashed. The scheme was again recommended for refusal at the planning meeting yesterday, however one of the main objectors, Manchester Airport, withdrew its submission prior to the meeting. The Airport had outlined fears that the watersports centre would attract more geese to the area and increase the chance of bird hazards.
The watersports centre will make use of two existing lakes, created as part of the quarry’s restoration plan following its closure. The North Lake will house a wire pulley system to enable wakeboarding, as well as an aerial activity course. The South Lake will be used for open water swimming, paddle boarding and canoeing.
There will be a clubhouse of 4,950 sq ft, extending to 9,200 sq ft when external decking is included.
Tim Woodhead, managing director of Cheshire Lakes CIC, said: “We are very happy that Cheshire East granted us planning permission. The big difference to last month was that the Manchester Airport objection was over turned, and myself and our supporters had the opportunity to speak and explain all the amazing benefits of our proposal. We now look forward to delivering an incredible facility which will boost recreation, leisure, sport and tourism in Cheshire East.”
Jonathan Vose, director of Walsingham Planning, said: “This has been a very involved and rewarding project. From the outset, we were able to convince the Council of the scheme’s benefits and acceptability within the green belt. The real test has been to overcome the Airport’s concerns about bird strike risk, and the Council’s views about the site’s ecological value. Yesterday’s approval reflects the hard work of the professional team, and the tireless work of the applicant in seeking to explain and promote this unique scheme.”
It is intended that the site will be fully operational in spring 2017 and will be open all year-round.
Walsingham Planning was lead consultant, working alongside AECOM, Campbell Reith, FOB Design UK and Urban Green.