A PROPOSAL to create a half-mile long luge track and chairlift in the Eden Valley has suffered a major setback.

Villagers, councillors and conservationists have all voiced their opposition to the proposals by Daniel Holder, owner of Cumbria’s hugely successful eco holiday park, The Quiet Site at Ullswater, and Cumbrian businessman, Charles Lowther.

They envisage that the purpose-built, downhill woodland track providing a 'thrilling ride' in gravity-powered carts will attract around 1,900 visitors daily at Nord Vue, Armathwaite.

But on Wednesday evening Lazonby Parish Council voted to lodge an objection to the application.

Councillors said they opposed the 840 metre long concrete luge track, chairlift, parking and visitors facilities in open countryside above the River Eden at Blaze Fell, Nord Vue.

The meeting was attended by objectors from the Armathwaite area who highlighted numerous reasons why the development should not be allowed. Letters of objection from those unable to attend were also read at the meeting.

Friends of the Lake District has also said it is supporting concerned members of the local community in their challenge.

"Blaze Fell is part of a sandstone ridge in open countryside and the site is immediately adjacent a County Wildlife Site and open access land," said a spokesperson.

"The proposal would have a significant impact on views and the character of the landscape in the area. We’re also concerned about the sustainability of the location – the developer anticipates that 80 percent of visitors will arrive at the attraction by car."

Cumbria Wildlife Trust have also objected to the proposals. David Harpley, Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s Conservation Manager said: “We are concerned about this application as it is next door to a County Wildlife Site supporting great crested newts and bats.

"The applicant does not appear to have undertaken any assessment of what the impacts of the development will be on the County Wildlife Site or the species living there.”

Eden District councillor Gordon Nicholson, who is also a member of the parish council, told the meeting: “I think there could well be strong ground for objection on the basis that the application fails to satisfy significant planning policy issues.”

He said the local plan required sustainable services but the proposed luge site was in open countryside.

There were also transport and access issues, he said. The developers’ estimate that 20 percent of people would come to the luge by public transport was described by one councillor as a 'red herring' and Councillor Nicholson agreed that he believed the vast majority of people would travel there by car.

Another area it had to satisfy was the economic impact. The developers said it would create 10 full time and 10 part time jobs which he said was a relatively small number of jobs for a significant development and he didn’t see benefits to the immediate area.

Objectors from the area raised a number of issues, including a list of policy objectives it fails to meet in the Lazonby Neighbourhood Plan in which sustainability is paramount.

Potential drainage problems from the site and the sewerage arrangements including for the lodge development at Nord Vue were also highlighted by a local resident.

The number of visitors arriving by car estimated by the developers at 256 a day was raised as a concern by another objector who said the traffic would be using a C grade road to and from the site to join the A6 at a dual carriageway where the speed limit was 70 mph and was already a potential accident blackspot.

To create the luge track alone going by the applicants’ figures, it was estimated that 710 tonnes of concrete and 1600 tonnes of hardcore and concrete would be required.

The previous week around 90 concerned residents attended a meeting called by Councillor Nicholson in Armathwaite Old School Hall which was attended by Mr Lowther and Mr Holder.

"The development of a luge track in the UK is an exciting project," said Mr Holder. "It will be popular both locally and nationally with locals benefitting from initial complimentary and ongoing discounted rides. In addition, schools will be offered discounted visits for science classes engaging in subjects such as gravity, friction, kinetic and potential energy."