COUNCIL planning officers have made a recommendation to approve a controversial proposal to build an adventure playground in Tatton Park.
A 65-page planning officers’ report has been submitted for the consideration of Cheshire East Council’s Strategic Planning Board, who will meet to decide the fate of the BeWILDerwood adventure playground on March 5.
The document considers the impact the Bure Valley Adventures development would have on Tatton Park and the surrounding area, but in summary, the officers recommended the board approve the updated application and send it to the Secretary of State – provided a total of 40 conditions are met.
Following the news of the officers’ approval, a spokesperson for BeWILDerwood said: "We have done all we can to ensure our proposed adventure park would be fitting with its environment and an asset to the local area, helping to directly sustain the future of Tatton Park.
“We hope that when discussing the application the generation of jobs and the economic benefits to the community be considered, as well as the magical world it proposes to create in the woods.”
The proposed BeWILDERwood development, which would be built in an area of Witchcote Wood and paid for with a £5million loan from Cheshire East Council, has been hotly-debated since plans were first submitted two years ago.
As outlined in the planning officers’ report, 563 residents and interest groups have formally objected to the proposals.
Some of the issues associated with the development include the impact on the landscape and Green Belt, and Highways and heritage implications.
In the report, CEC’s Strategic Highways Manager stated no highways objections to the application, ‘subject to a condition that a specific traffic management plan is submitted prior to occupation for the Bewilderwood operation’.
STAG, the Save Tatton Action Group, has been campaigning against the theme park since the application was submitted in March 2012.
A spokesperson for the group said: "Given the sheer volume of comments against the application - all citing planning grounds for refusal, STAG is saddened that the planners have seen fit to recommend this cackhanded application for approval.
"Reading the report, it looks like everyone who wants to preserve the unique nature of Tatton Park, such as the Knutsford Heritage & Conservation Group, the Cheshire Gardens Society, the CPRE, have all been ignored.
"Tatton's ponds, arable farmland, ancient woodland, environment, and tranquility have been sacrificed by the planners for a commercial venture funded by their employers, Cheshire East Council.
"Knutsfordians will suffer enormously if this does go through - traffic using the Knutsford Gate will increase by 21 per cent.
"STAG trusts that all members of the strategic planning board who are on the Tatton Board or who have other connections with Tatton Park will abstain. We also hope our local CEC Councillors attend the meeting and speak against the application."