A wildlife centre in Cumbria has won a planning appeal over its third application for an expansion, featuring an aviary, education space, and animal viewing rooms.
The Predator Experience, situated on a farm in Ayside within the Lake District National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site, first put forward plans for an expansion in 2016, but this was refused, with the local authority arguing the proposals would be “inappropriate in scale”.
A second application followed in September 2017, but this was withdrawn following concerns from the applicant, which argued the “full facts” of the application were not considered before a potential decision was made.
The third application, put forward in 2018, was refused with concerns raised again over the buildings’ impact on the landscape. However, following a planning appeal in May, the Predator Experience has now secured consent, supported by WYG.
Designed by architect JCA, the 8,000 sq ft buildings will be situated on a neighbouring field to the Predator Experience, and will also provide office facilities, animal housing, and a feed store. Animals housed at the wildlife centre include birds of prey, wolves, and reindeer.
The addition to the wildlife centre is expected to contribute £1.1m to the local economy.
Siding with the Predator Experience, planning inspector Siobhan Watson argued the development would cause “less than substantial harm” to the World Heritage Site, which would be outweighed by the benefits of the scheme to local business and tourism.
Julie Diamond, principal planner at WYG, said: “This is the right decision from the Planning Inspectorate and demonstrates the importance of getting expert local planning advice from a very early stage in the development process. We strongly believed in the merits of this planning case from the beginning and rigorously pursued our client’s objectives to finally arrive at a truly positive outcome.
“It represents two very successful years of hard work for the applicants, Dee and Daniel Ashman, and our planning team at WYG. We are very pleased to be supporting prosperous economic developments in Cumbria.”
Dee Ashman, co-owner of Predator Experience said: “Our professional team of advisers have been wonderful and to know that WYG have had our backs and believed in our business from the outset, has been a constant reassurance when at times it felt like David versus Goliath.
“After a hugely challenging few years when we’ve not been able to take the business forward, we’re now excited to focus our efforts into the new development and create a world class visitor attraction in the world class environment of the Lake District.”