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Old November 14th, 2012, 04:34 PM   #1
newcastlepubs
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£50M Adventure Park | Widdrington | Various | Preparation

This nutty scheme keeps coming back from the dead every couple of years or so...

Quote:
Northumberland £50m resort 'could bring 700 jobs'

The resort would include snow slopes, gorges and canyons
A planning application is to be submitted for a £50m resort in Northumberland that could create 700 jobs in the area.

The 800-acre adventure park planned in Widdrington would include a 50-acre lake, restaurants and the UK's biggest tree house adventure playground.

An application for the initial phase is being submitted to the council with a full application due in 2013.

If approved, the Active Lifestyle Resort could open in summer 2015.

Accommodation would include 100 camping pods and 400 holiday homes.

Outdoor attractions planned include snow slopes, gorges and canyons, equestrian, fishing, skiing, water sports, 4x4 off-road track, while indoor facilities will include climbing walls, a fitness centre, water park and spa.
More... BBC... http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tyne-20323212

If the ski part happens ..... I d like to invite you all to my combined enthronement as Pope and appointment as Chief Rabbi... trebles all round.

Impossible to make it fly in its current format, though the sound of white coats flapping is slightly less than when an indoor ski slope was planned..

I quote a colleague of mine who knows the project:

Quote:
He is having 3m tonnes of 'inert' waste tipped on the site to build the hill. So that'll be 3m .\. 30 tonnes (trucks) at approximately £15 per ton. So £15 x 3m = £45m.

Now having made all that money, why would you want to go and waste it on a holiday park that no-one is going to go to?

Last edited by Newcastle Historian; November 19th, 2012 at 01:44 PM.
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Old November 15th, 2012, 12:24 AM   #2
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Northumberland £50m resort 'could bring 700 jobs'



A planning application is to be submitted for a £50m resort in Northumberland that could create 700 jobs in the area.

The 800-acre adventure park planned in Widdrington would include a 50-acre lake, restaurants and the UK's biggest tree house adventure playground.

An application for the initial phase is being submitted to the council with a full application due in 2013.

If approved, the Active Lifestyle Resort could open in summer 2015.

Accommodation would include 100 camping pods and 400 holiday homes.

Outdoor attractions planned include snow slopes, gorges and canyons, equestrian, fishing, skiing, water sports, 4x4 off-road track, while indoor facilities will include climbing walls, a fitness centre, water park and spa.

More at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tyne-20323212
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Old November 15th, 2012, 01:11 AM   #3
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Centre Parcs seem to do okay, but their setups are a bit bigger-budget than this.
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Old November 15th, 2012, 01:23 AM   #4
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I honestly think it's a good idea, possibly the wrong location in Northumberland though.

The town of Widdrington is poor, it is only really served by one shop, one chip shop, a railway line that has 1 train to Newcastle/Morpeth in each direction a day, and the bus service is pretty much non existent. The nearest town would probably be Amble which is a good 15 minutes drive away by car.

Even though it is primarily a caravan/holiday site the facilities it has would need to be accessible to the public as well to be worth while and it just isn't unless you have a car and even then it is out of the way. If it is to be in Northumberland then a surely a location nearer to Morpeth would be more suitable, if it doesn't have to be in Northumberland then how about the dunes just outside of Earsden on the North Tyneside/Northumberland border?
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Old November 15th, 2012, 01:53 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cranfan View Post
Centre Parcs seem to do okay, but their setups are a bit bigger-budget than this.
There are some differences... the cost of the ski side will be pretty astronomical [note the full conceptual] and, unlike a pool and a waterpark you start from a lower base of customers - in other words it's highly likely that most Centre Parcs customers will be able to swim. In that location the return on investment on the snowsports facility won't be high enough

To date no one has made the 'centre parcs' version of an artificial snowsports area stack up enough to start cutting turf, and lots have tried. The most famous [with a few mentions in 'The Eye'] is Snoasis, albeit a slightly different beast because of the indoor slope. The closest to making this concept work is Center Parcs De Kempervennen which is next to the Montana indoor ski centre. They share ownership, but crucially the ski facility is not part of the park, the usage is priced separately and it really relies on 'skiers' not the park for bums on seats [or skis].

Centre Parcs venues [arguably save for Whinfell Forest] also have a decent population in a driving circle around them, and no disrespect to Northumberland, this is landfill, at the edge of a pit village 'up north'.

There are several reasons I can't see this happening - not as proposed anyway, some of those are from what you might call 'inside knowledge' but others are based on the same reasons that I flagged that the proposed Sunderland and Gateshead indoor centres would never happen, cost and population.

It may run with the non snowsports aspects, or with a radically reduced snowsport facility [ie a 'nursery' area]. But as presented... nah.

Oh not even the conceptual drawings are actually for this site... they're from a proposal to build something similar in Cornwall. Check the area in the square highlighted and compare to the BBC story..



Quote:
Originally Posted by bigchrisfgb View Post
I honestly think it's a good idea, possibly the wrong location in Northumberland though.

The town of Widdrington is poor, it is only really served by one shop, one chip shop, a railway line that has 1 train to Newcastle/Morpeth in each direction a day, and the bus service is pretty much non existent. The nearest town would probably be Amble which is a good 15 minutes drive away by car.

Even though it is primarily a caravan/holiday site the facilities it has would need to be accessible to the public as well to be worth while and it just isn't unless you have a car and even then it is out of the way. If it is to be in Northumberland then a surely a location nearer to Morpeth would be more suitable, if it doesn't have to be in Northumberland then how about the dunes just outside of Earsden on the North Tyneside/Northumberland border?
It might have more chance in the central belt of Scotland or possibly North Yorks/perhaps sth of Boro between the A19 and A1... however [and here I am only looking at the ski side] both areas are already well served with snowsports areas, or rather this would have to be so big and spectacular to draw significant numbers of skiers from the indoor facilities that it couldn't make money. With size there is also an inbuilt problem - up to about 120-150m the user no's [sliders, not snowplay] and costs increase directly in proportion to length. In simple terms a 60m slope will get about half the visitors of a 120m one. Go much above 120-150 [though it depends a bit on width etc] and the user numbers graph still rises but much less steeply. However the other graph showing the costs of building and running the facility steepens markedly.

I hope it flies, but if it does it will bear as much resemblance to what's being floated as I do to Anne Widdicombe.
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Old November 15th, 2012, 11:23 AM   #6
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Further to

Widdrington adventure holiday park
could bring 700 new jobs

by Kerry Wood, The Journal, November 15th 2012


The site near Widdrington of the proposed Blue Sky Forest adventure holiday park. Insest, artist's impression of the ski slope

PLANS for a £50m adventure holiday park that would bring 700 jobs to an employment blackspot in the North East have been unveiled. The proposals for a holiday complex at a former opencast site near Widdrington, Northumberland, come at a time when the nearby Alcan site – which was the county’s largest private sector employer – is closing down and there are more than 50 unemployed people for every job.

The resort would boast a four-star luxury holiday village, 100 camping pods, water park and spa, the UK’s largest tree house adventure playground, a fitness centre, 50-acre lake and 400 eco-lodge holiday homes. Developers also want to create snow slopes, gorges and canyons, mountain bike trails and off-road vehicle courses alongside outdoor activities including fishing, horse riding and water sports. The proposals would mark the fruition of the ambitious Blue Sky Forest project launched by local people more than a decade ago to regenerate the area.

Plans for the initial phase will be submitted to Northumberland County Council in the next few weeks with the full planning application to follow next year. Launching the scheme yesterday, Chris Davies, chief executive of developers Active Leisure Resorts, said: “This is a unique concept, there is nothing like it in Europe. When it is a success I hope to replicate it across the UK and take it to Europe. Active Leisure Resorts represents a real and viable opportunity to play a major role in the regeneration of rural Northumberland. This scheme will not only totally revitalise the site but also the minds of the community for which it serves."


Read More - http://www.journallive.co.uk/north-e...#ixzz2CHVp6DOO

.

Last edited by Newcastle Historian; August 22nd, 2014 at 11:47 PM.
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Old November 15th, 2012, 01:23 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newcastlepubs View Post
This nutty scheme keeps coming back from the dead every couple of years or so...



More... BBC... http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tyne-20323212

If the ski part happens ..... I d like to invite you all to my combined enthronement as Pope and appointment as Chief Rabbi... trebles all round.

Impossible to make it fly in its current format, though the sound of white coats flapping is slightly less than when an indoor ski slope was planned..

I quote a colleague of mine who knows the project:
Maybe the plan is that the skiing element marks it apart from the likes of Centre Parcs, also if it is lower budget and priced accordingly it may attract a larger number of people as Centre Parcs can be pricey, especially in the school holidays.

I see they are proposing snow slopes, i remember when I was young skiing on a test slope at the Sheffield ski village where the university were developing a kind of snow substitute that did not melt outdoors in he summer for skiing and boarding, I wonder if they are looking at using something like this as I doubt they are relying on the 4 days of snow we get every year
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Old November 15th, 2012, 02:36 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Newcastle Historian View Post
Further to

Widdrington adventure holiday park
could bring 700 new jobs

by Kerry Wood, The Journal, November 15th 2012


The site near Widdrington of the proposed Blue Sky Forest adventure holiday park. Insest, artist's impression of the ski slope

PLANS for a £50m adventure holiday park that would bring 700 jobs to an employment blackspot in the North East have been unveiled. The proposals for a holiday complex at a former opencast site near Widdrington, Northumberland, come at a time when the nearby Alcan site – which was the county’s largest private sector employer – is closing down and there are more than 50 unemployed people for every job.

The resort would boast a four-star luxury holiday village, 100 camping pods, water park and spa, the UK’s largest tree house adventure playground, a fitness centre, 50-acre lake and 400 eco-lodge holiday homes. Developers also want to create snow slopes, gorges and canyons, mountain bike trails and off-road vehicle courses alongside outdoor activities including fishing, horse riding and water sports. The proposals would mark the fruition of the ambitious Blue Sky Forest project launched by local people more than a decade ago to regenerate the area.

Read More - http://www.journallive.co.uk/north-e...#ixzz2CHVp6DOO
Yep that artists illustration is strangely familiar . BTW the Journal is wrong on the quote that 'Developers also want to create snow slopes'. They did in earlier iterations, but this proposal is for an outdoor facility using PBT 'matting'. It is in theory possible to make snow outdoors cryogenically at almost any temperature... but the energy cost is absolutely eye poppping.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pleaty View Post
Maybe the plan is that the skiing element marks it apart from the likes of Centre Parcs, also if it is lower budget and priced accordingly it may attract a larger number of people as Centre Parcs can be pricey, especially in the school holidays.

I see they are proposing snow slopes, i remember when I was young skiing on a test slope at the Sheffield ski village where the university were developing a kind of snow substitute that did not melt outdoors in he summer for skiing and boarding, I wonder if they are looking at using something like this as I doubt they are relying on the 4 days of snow we get every year
They have been at this for 10 years, the initial plan was for real [refrigerated] indoor snow, but with a cost of c£60mil for the slopes alone that is positively sectionable..

The surface they are considering now is a PBT brush type surface called pro slope. It offers some advantages over the metal matrix brush surfaces you probably skied on at Sheffield [now sadly no more].

I know a good deal about the economics of these places and it's simply not possible to make money from a facility of the size in the rendering [that's also one of the reasons that it didn t work in Cornwall, in an area with extensive tourism and better infrastructure]. Let's set to one side the other parts of the project which include...

Quote:
The resort would boast a four-star luxury holiday village, 100 camping pods, water park and spa, the UK’s largest tree house adventure playground, a fitness centre, 50-acre lake and 400 eco-lodge holiday homes.

Developers also want to create snow slopes, gorges and canyons, mountain bike trails and off-road vehicle courses alongside outdoor activities including fishing, horse riding and water sports.
Actually no, just looked at the maths on the pillows; 400 eco lodge homes, plus a 4 star hotel. We'll ignore the camping pods and make an unrealistic assumption of a 50 room hotel = 100 pillows, plus the eco lodges being twins which most won't, be, they ll be 4's. However that gives 36500 possible 'stays' in the hotel and 292 000 in the lodges. That s a total of 328 500 stays. Now the Journal states:

Quote:
It is estimated the “active lifestyle resort” could draw in up to 300,000 day visits and 350,000 paid nights a year once it opens
Well even forgetting the camping and under estimating the beds on the hotel and lodges we are getting very close to 100% occupancy... which is flying pig territory.

Now a four star hotel new build....Whitbread [premier inn] work on £34-45k per room build cost for an Inn and £65-125 for mid market - both excluding land. Let's assume zero cost for the land...

50 x £40k = 2 mil, 50 x £80k = 4 mil.... then we have 400 eco lodges, let's take a stab at £30k each... that gives us £12 mil.. budget for the fitness centre and spa, the tree house and adventure playground, the building of gorges and canyons and we're in the low to mid £20 mils without even breathing hard...

It may be that the hotel is bigger than my 50 beds in which case the % occupancy on 350k stays falls but the cost of building the thing [and they do refer to a four star luxury village] goes even closer to the ionosphere..

Oh and the ski slope - there are a few variables from the rendering, but £7-10m for something of that scale is ball park - it's not just the slope, it's lifts, heavy duty pumps and a mist lubrications system, equipment etc.

I see [professionally] at least a couple of proposals of this type a month from all over the country. The only thing that makes this slightly different is the use of PBT matting as opposed to indoor snow. That reduces the cost of the 'skiing' aspects of the project, but in this case it's offset by scale and to a degree I'd suggest location.

Absolutely not possible on the scale put forwards - well not unless someone else is paying and you just have to worry about operating costs.

Last edited by Newcastle Historian; August 22nd, 2014 at 11:48 PM.
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Old December 4th, 2012, 02:02 PM   #9
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Community backs Blue Sky Forest Adventure
Park, near Widdrington, say developers.

by David Black, The Journal, December 4th 2012


The site near Widdrington of the proposed Adventure Holiday Park and (insert) artist's impression of the ski slope


A DEVELOPMENT COMPANY which is leading a £50m tourism and leisure project aimed at creating 700 jobs in Northumberland says its plans have been enthusiastically received by locals. Last month Active Leisure unveiled its ambitious proposals to create the UK’s first Active Lifestyles Resort on 800 acres of restored opencast land near Widdrington.

The short break adventure park – which is planned to open in summer 2015 – will include a 50-acre lake; snow slopes, gorges and canyons; mountain bike trails; off-road vehicle courses and the UK’s biggest tree house adventure playground. Outdoor attractions will include equestrian, fishing, skiing, water sports, high ropes courses, woodland adventure activities and 4x4 off roading, while indoor facilities include climbing walls, a fitness centre, water park and spa.

Plans for the resort also include accommodation in a four-star luxury holiday village, ranging from 100 camping pods to 400 eco-lodge holiday homes, some with integrated patios and hot tubs. Now Active Leisure says its vision has been welcomed by local people and businesses at a two-day public exhibition in Hadston at the weekend, which was attended by more than 80 residents.


Read More (Two Pages) - http://www.journallive.co.uk/north-e...#ixzz2E5FnXGtc

.

Last edited by Newcastle Historian; August 22nd, 2014 at 11:49 PM.
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Old December 24th, 2012, 02:16 PM   #10
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Olive branch pacifies team furious over plan "hijack"
by David Black, The Journal, December 24th 2012


AN entrepreneur has extended an olive branch to villagers after causing anger by the way he revealed his plans for a £50m tourism and leisure complex in Northumberland. Last month Chris Davies, boss of developer Active Leisure Resorts, unveiled ambitious proposals to create the 700-job holiday park on former opencast land near the village of Widdrington and in a press statement he described the Active Lifestyle Resort as his brainchild, and said he had worked on it for eight years with his sons Ben and Greg. His comments were greeted with anger by Widdrington resident James Grant, and other members of the local Widdrington Regeneration Partnership (WRP). For more than a decade, Mr Grant has been working on his personal vision of a multi-million-pound tourism and leisure complex capable of creating up to 1,000 jobs at Widdrington.

WRP members were angered by Mr Davies’s comments because they felt they had effectively 'hijacked' their original concept and failed to give any recognition to the work they have put in over the last 10 years. Now – at a one-to-one meeting with Mr Grant intended to clear the air – Mr Davies has apparently apologised for the choice of words used to launch his proposals, and said he hopes to work closely with locals to bring the project to fruition.

Mr Grant, a draftsman who has lived in Widdrington for many years, said: “I was absolutely livid at Chris Davies’s comments and thought they were disgraceful. As far as I was concerned it was plagiarism, because virtually everything in their project plan and press release was included in what I put to them in a presentation years ago. What annoys me is that I personally invited Chris Davies here and did a presentation, in which I told him about all the things we wanted to do. All of these things have now appeared in his development proposal. This was not his vision, it was mine, but he seemed to be claiming the whole thing stems from him."


Read More - http://www.journallive.co.uk/north-e...#ixzz2FyEuqsjx
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Old June 4th, 2013, 12:23 PM   #11
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Does anyone know if an actual Planning Application was ever submitted for this?

It does seem to have gone a bit quiet
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Old August 11th, 2013, 10:23 PM   #12
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Northumberland adventure resort land works begin
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tyne-23611585
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Old August 12th, 2013, 02:00 AM   #13
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Northumberland Adventure Resort - Landworks Begin
BBC News Website, 8th August 2013


New resort could bring 700 jobs

Land preparation works for a £50m resort in Northumberland have been given the go ahead.

The 800-acre adventure park to be built in Widdrington is expected to create 700 jobs and will include a 50-acre lake, restaurants and a treehouse adventure playground.

Northumberland County Council granted planning permission for the start of construction of one activity area.

It is due to open in 2016 and is expected to attract 500,000 visitors.

Read More - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tyne-23611585
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Old August 12th, 2013, 09:37 AM   #14
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I like idea... another local place I can take my daughter for some fun
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Old September 11th, 2013, 04:04 PM   #15
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Here is Sheffield a natural hill was utilised near the city centre that was once the UK's most snow sports venue.

It is now derelict, burnt out and abandoned.
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Old January 10th, 2014, 08:37 PM   #16
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Planning application for £50m Northumberland leisure park nearly ready

Courtesy of today's Journal Live, copyright NCJMedia Ltd @ http://www.thejournal.co.uk/news/nor...eisure-6490052

Planning application for £50m Northumberland leisure park nearly ready
By Brian Daniel - 10th January 2014


Greg Davies, Chris Davies and Den Davies of Active Leisure Resort at the site near Widdrington which is to be transformed into the Blue Sky Forest holiday and leisure park

Plans for a £50m leisure project in Northumberland look set to be lodged in the near future.

Active Leisure Resorts is in the final stages of drawing up a planning application for a holiday village and adventure park that could bring 700 jobs to the former Steadsburn opencast site near Widdrington.

The company is holding a consultation event later this month to discuss its plans, which include creating the UK’s first artificial adventure slope for climbing, caving and gorge walking, an artificial ski slope with luge track and jumps, 50-acre lake, off-road driving courses and the biggest tree house adventure playground in the country.

There would also be a leisure hub with swimming pool, equestrian facilities, a retail centre, 400 eco holiday homes and 100 camping pods.

Company chief executive Chris Davies said: “The plans are a lot more advanced now. Things are moving very quickly.

“We could be ready to submit a detailed planning application by the end of February.

“It is getting pretty exciting because I have worked on the site for eight, nine years and what was concept is reality.

“The penny is beginning to drop now that it is actually happening.”



The scheme would cover almost 800 acres of the 2,500 acres at Steadsburn, Maidens Hall and Stobswood opencast sites identified by the Widdrington Regeneration Partnership (WRP) for leisure re-development.

Mr Davies said: “We have got 800 of the 2,500 acres so our focus is on delivering an active lifestyle resort.”

Read more @ http://www.thejournal.co.uk/news/nor...eisure-6490052
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Old April 16th, 2014, 03:05 PM   #17
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A few points: Active Leisure have recently taken the first steps to wind up the company.

The Davies (who are Active Leisure) do not appear to have ever completed a development they were associated with.

Their last company, Chandler Leisure Developments, went into receivership leaving debts to various people who had done work for them (this is easily verifiable - just google Chandler Leisure Developments).

Active Leisure, despite the press releases which were uncritically swallowed by local media, have repeatedly refused to answer questions put to them by local residents (including me) about all aspects of their proposals. I have heard some neighbours complain that they were actually verbally abused and insulted by representatives of Active Leisure.

Active Leisure put about the story that they had been involved in this proposal for 8 or 9 years (the story seemed to change), which is not true, as no-one here had heard of them before late 2012.

Anyone who thinks this ridiculous scheme is a good one is welcome to buy my house (300m from the boundaries of the site) and live with it on their doorstep rather than mine. Oh, and for the record I am in favour of the wind turbine proposals, also about 3-500m from my house.
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Old April 16th, 2014, 03:20 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Newcastle Historian View Post
Does anyone know if an actual Planning Application was ever submitted for this?

It does seem to have gone a bit quiet
The only application the Davies have submitted is for the dumping of PFA, which they claim is part of "landscaping".

They are now over a year behind their own projected timescale on this proposal, and several months behind what they claimed in January, at which point they were also claiming that they could significantly change plans which were due to be submitted by the end of February.

Someone or other has been flying this sort of kite for a decade now ans nothing has happened.

The Steadsburn site was supposed to be fully restored by December 2012...

I just wonder who is actually being honest out there.
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Old April 21st, 2014, 12:29 PM   #19
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Further to my previous posts, I'd like to add a couple of other thoughts...

This sort of thing typifies how useless our local press are: they have swallowed all the Davies' press releases and the posing at the site without asking a single question. A quick use of a well-known search engine reveals those things I posted above. A couple of conversations with local residents would have revealed that the Davies were NOT involved in anything round here for 8-9 years and that the images used in the "plans" bore a startling resemblance to those in the old Blue Sky Forest proposals.

It also seems that all anyone has to do is say "Jobs!" and pluck any old number, as long as it is a large one, out of some orifice or other: the sorts of jobs in this proposal would be, typically, low/minimum wage, low skill/unskilled and highly seasonal, but no-one seems to look at that, because "Jobs!"....

No questions were asked about infrastructure and access other than by a handful of local residents who know the area: hundreds of thousands of people are NOT getting into that site without some major re-jigging of local roads, which no-one was proposing...

There is a very strong suspicion locally that the "tourist development" is nothing but kite-flying and was actually a front for the application for dumping PFA (no surprise if one looks at the history of dumping other things here - anyone remember the dumping of cattle carcasses after FMD?).

Personally, I'd like to see the site put to mixed woodland (willow and alder will grow on that type of land no bother), which can be managed to produce fuel for a wood-burning power station on the site, providing renewable and cheap electricity to local villages, which would be far more use to us than these idiotic "tourist village" ideas.
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