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Plans for 'unique' holiday village with hotel, VR zoo and artisan market near Lancaster could be refused

A map of the planned holiday village published in a report by Lancaster City Council.

Plans for a major new holiday park with a hotel, virtual reality zoo and artisan market near Lancaster have been recommended for refusal.

Lancaster City Council planners say the outline plans for a new 'Ellel Holiday Village' on land at Home Farm near Galgate should not get permission.

Applicants TNPG Sandeman Trust and Ellel Holiday Village Ltd want to build a new holiday village and eco-park with up to 450 holiday lodges and pods for artisan makers to stay in.

"The proposed development is unique to the district," said a council report, published this week.

The new park, close to the A6, could also include a 'Home Farm' hub centred around renovated farm buildings, to potentially include restaurants and bars, a spa and swimming pool as well as a market garden/plant sales. Outbuildings could become stables to provide horse-riding to guests.

There could also be a new Marketplace on the site which has been described as "a fabulous new leisure destination and commercial centre which will provide a range of facilities under one roof including; farm shop, food hall, 100 bed hotel and function suite" and "Virtual Reality Zoo and outdoor activity centre" next to it.

The report says the pods would be “leased to artisan businesses or individuals who will manufacture a range of goods which will in turn be sold from the marketplace".

There would also be parking on the site, bike and buggy hire, and "significant areas of open space, soft landscaping, play space, tree planting, habitat creation and retention of established woodlands".

But the council has received 760 objections to the plans, as well as 96 contacts who support the proposal.

Here is a plan of how the holiday village might look. (Image from Lancaster City Council).

The outline planning application is for the "creation of a holiday village and eco-park comprising the erection of up to 450 holiday lodges, erection of a hotel (Class C1), marketplace (Classes E and Sui Generis), virtual reality wildlife experience (Class F1), artisan workers pods (Class E) with ancillary service and storage, hard and soft landscaping and drainage works and water storage attenuation ponds with full planning permission sought for the creation of a vehicular access off the A6 and across Lancaster Canal".

The site is at Home Farm, Ellel Grange, Main Road, Galgate.

Those in favour of the plans have given numerous reasons, including its "good location with access just off the M6 motorway", it would be a "project that will benefit everyone and be good for the environment we live in", "the idea of a tourist and marketplace hub would be a very good idea" and a "high quality and sustainable development bringing visitors into the city is just what Lancaster needs and this will serve as a great complement to both the area and indeed the Eden Project if that is to go ahead".

But those against have also given several reasons, including that the plan would transform the countryside "into an urban environment, destroying wildlife habitats, the peace and quiet covering perfectly wonderful fields in tarmac for a huge car park and destroying more nature", that "this is not the right place for a tourist attraction, it is a place of many fine historical qualities which will be destroyed and by its very nature impact upon and destroy the rural setting and scenic characteristics" and "with 220,000 people a year expected to visit the site, the canal towpath, and footpaths in the surrounding area, not to mention the site itself will be inundated with people, causing serious damage to the environment and ecology, by simply trampling all over it".

A Design and Access Statement submitted with the planning application in 2020 said: "Ellel Holiday Village LLP was established as a joint venture between the current landowner, and EHV LLP. They are both committed to the long-term future and prosperity of the site, which has been in the same family ownership for over 100 years.

"Through continual investment and creativity, they aim to build an environmentally friendly, business enhancing, holiday village. They see this as the stepping stone for securing its future for the next 100 years."

The report says that Lancaster City Council planners are recommending refusal of outline planning permission on four grounds.

They are that "the site is crossed by the Northwest Ethylene Pipeline which is a 10” steel, High Pressure (90bar) Ethylene Pipeline and is designated as a Major Accident Hazard Pipeline. The mitigation advocated by the applicant and the measures proposed by the HSE would not meet the tests of a planning condition in respect of relevance, precision and enforceability to make the development acceptable and ultimately safe for the public."

Secondly, "the proposed development is located within a valued landscape that has a close historic association between Ellel Grange and the designed parkland alongside the Lancaster Canal that forms an important green space network in the district. The character of the area is verdant, open, rural, and tranquil providing a peaceful retreat along the canal from the urban area. The proposal for recreation and commercial uses fails to preserve the open nature and character of the area resulting in a significant harm to the landscape character of the site, the visual amenity of the area, setting of the Grade II Listed Ellel Grange, the historically designed parkland setting and the value and integrity of the canal corridor as an important green space".

Their third reason is that "It has not been adequately demonstrated that the components of the proposed development are intrinsically linked and are mutually dependent on one another."

There are also concerns about possible flood risk from "surface water and groundwater".

Lancaster City Council planning regulatory committee, a group of elected councillors, will meet on Monday, February 26 at Morecambe Town Hall to discuss the plans and will have the final say on whether to grant permission.

The meeting starts at 10.30am and is open to public.

Read the full council report here.

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