New proposals for former Blue Sky Forest site

Major plans for a new holiday park, which could create up to 130 jobs, have been lodged for a site which was formerly earmarked for a similar bid.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 22nd December 2017, 5:00 am

Callaly Leisure Ltd has submitted a hybrid application for what is called Chevington Castle Holiday Park on land south of West Chevington Farm Cottages.

It consists of a bid for full planning permission for a holiday park comprising the installation of up to 275 hard-standing bases for static caravans, 200 all-weather pitches for touring units and tents, parking and toilet/shower block, main reception and amenity building, outdoor play area, workshop and water-based leisure uses, plus an outline scheme for a further 475 hard-standing bases for holiday homes, a nine-hole golf course and a café.

As a planning statement submitted with the application says, the site ‘has a long and complex history’, beginning with the coal extraction from the Steadsburn site, ending in 2011.

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The report continues: ‘There has been a long-standing aim within the local area of creating a year-round major tourism and leisure destination on the site of the former complex of surface coal mines in the Widdrington Station/Ulgham area’, dubbed Blue Sky Forest.

It adds that the council still supports this type of development of the site and ‘Callaly Leisure sees this site as a perfect starting point to create a bespoke tourism and leisure attraction that would be compatible with and optimise the landform created from the restored surface coal site and that would deliver many of the long-standing ambitions for the site.’

The report also ‘demonstrates that the proposed development would provide a number of economic benefits including the creation of around 100 full-time and 30 part-time jobs, a number of indirect and spin-off jobs, around 143,000 additional overnight visitors per annum and generating around £7-8million in visitor spend in the local economy’.

Coun Scott Dickinson, ward member for Druridge Bay, said: “It seems from the plans to be an exciting opportunity to utilise this site. The company has bought the land and therefore, in my opinion, been more committed than any other plans circulated in previous announcements about this site.

“Last week, we had a meeting with developers, and parish councils of the area seemed welcoming of the investment and job creation. The experienced company, which runs high-quality schemes like this, estimates at least 100 jobs.

“I am also keen on the leisure plans such as the pool that will be accessible to local people and schools. I will continue to raise any issues that arise during the planning process and ensure that local people’s views are heard.”