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Saturday, 23 August 2014

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South Cumbria zoo wins four-year fight to triple in size

A four-year saga came to an end yesterday when a popular Cumbrian zoo park was given the go-ahead to expand.

The South Lakes Wild Animal Park near Dalton is set to celebrate its 18th birthday in style after plans for the park to grow by almost three times were given the green light.

Fifteen new jobs are set to be created and owner David Gill has pledged to use only local contractors to carry out the £4m development.

Speaking from his ranch in Wyoming, park owner David Gill said the expansion would see some ‘major new arrivals’, with the zoo becoming a ‘flagship attraction’.

He said: “I’m very happy, it’s been a long time in the planning.

“I think the first plans were originally drawn up about four years ago.

“I have an enormous feeling of relief and am so glad that common sense has prevailed.

“There will be a minimum of £4 million being spent, and this will go into the local economy.

“All of our contractors are local and they will then obviously spend that money locally.”

National body the Planning Inspectorate yesterday chose to grant planning permission to extend the Dalton zoo.

In July last year, the plans were initially rejected by Barrow Borough Council’s planning committee.

The committee chose to reject the proposals as they had concerns about the size and character of the development, and about traffic problems which they believed would occur if traffic had to access the park from the U6097, which leads to Melton Terrace.

However, Mr Gill appealed to the Planning Inspectorate, which ruled in his favour.

Independent inspector Paul Dignan ruled that the council’s concern that such a large development would have a negative impact on a rural area was outweighed by the benefits of any ‘limited harm’ that will be caused.

Mr Gill added: “This approval safeguards 50 jobs and will bring many new animals to the park as well as giving more space and new habitats to existing animals. This May is the zoo’s 18th birthday and we are going to celebrate in style now we have this permission to start immediately.”

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