PLANS to build an £80 million hotel, conference centre and water park at West Midland Safari Park have been given the backing of Bewdley Town Council.
The town council’s five-member planning committee, at a dedicated meeting on Monday, November 24, unanimously voted to contact Wyre Forest District Council with their approval of the plan and recommendations for consideration.
Nick Laister, senior director at RPS, the safari park’s planning adviser, said: “These plans could turn the Safari Park from a summer attraction, to an all-year round resort.
“It would change from being a one-day visit, to people staying over in the hotel or in the closer area. This would bring more people to the region, keen to see towns and attractions surrounding the Safari Park.”
Health Concern councillor, Calne Edginton-White, said: “Economic development is crucial to Bewdley as a town.”
Conservative councillor, Mary Fishwick, said: “I think it is a fantastic idea. We need something like this to draw people to the area. I think it should go ahead.”
The planning committee expressed concerns regarding the new proposed entrances and exit for the new facilities, on the roundabout of the A456/B4190, which would add to the traffic issues.
Health Concern councillor, Anne Mace, said: “To go to the Safari Park on bank holiday may be a good idea for some, but if you live in Worcestershire, you do not go near the place on a bank holiday.”
Health Concern councillor, Linda Candlin, said: “We have all been stuck in traffic when it takes an hour to get home instead of 10 minutes when the park is busy.”
It is proposed the new facilities would provide 292 new full time jobs, which RPS have said the Safari Park are keen to hire from the local area as they have done previously.
Cllr Mace added: “I think it is a wonderful opportunity for the area, therefore I am for approval.
“I do not wish to stop this plan going forward.”
The plans, which were announced during the ReWyre autumn conference in November 2011, would see a 250-room hotel, spa facility, 1,000 delegate conference centre and an indoor water park built on the site.
A full planning application was submitted to WFDC for the water park in August this year, with outline plans for the hotel and conference centre put forward at the same.
Bosses say the improvements, which will be built over 10 years, would transform the park into a resort to rival other parks such as Drayton Manor and Alton Towers.
West Midland Safari Park is already a very popular attraction in the Midlands, which attracts around 750,000 visitors each year and employs more than 400 staff.
The Shuttle ran an online poll to see the opinions of the readers regarding whether the Safari Park would benefit these plans. 42 per cent of readers voted that yes as it could only bring people to the park from further away and 31 per cent voted yes as everyone loves a good attraction.
Only 20 per cent voted that no they are worried about the animals having to deal with the extra pressure this would bring and even less, eight per cent voted no it is good enough without these facilities.