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All Things Wild

ALL THINGS WILD.

LPA ref: SCREEN/00079

Willicote Farm, Campden Road, Clifford Chambers, Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 8LN

Proposed new nature park visitor attraction /theme park

The Development:

  • Site area of 32 hectares (80 acres)
  • Development includes visitor car and coach parking; staff parking; various areas for attractions both in and outside; extensive roads, hardstanding areas and paths, and new building construction including 45no. holiday lodges/cottages.
  • From the Drop-in Session it has been established that the proposed ATW theme park attraction will have very little in common with the current Honeybourne operation, as aside from a site area three-times that of the current operation it will include:
    • Over 1,000 car-parking spaces for visitors, plus coach parking and staff parking
    • The submitted site plan shows:  
      • 575 visitor car parking spaces
      • 9 coach parking spaces
      • 55 staff parking spaces
    • Discussions with ATW staff at the Drop-in Event, and corroborated by displayed material at the same event, confirmed that the area shown blank to the NW corner of the Proposed Site Plan and north of the shown larger car parking area will also be visitor car parking. This has the potential for at least 450-500 car parking spaces.
    • There is also room to the east of the shown parking, again on the northern edge of the site, for a further visitor car park expansion, in an unallocated area.
    • It is assumed that staff parking is to the SW corner of the Site Plan, but there is evidently ample space to east of that to double or treble the amount of staff parking. 
  • Necessary infrastructure for the wider site, including lighting to attractions, car park, guest lodge areas, service and back of house areas, and paths/roads across the whole site.
  • At the Drop-in Event the displayed material showed the Theme Park having an expanded offering across multiple themes, including animal and other-themed exhibits plus a broad range of other activities, including:
    • Rock climbing
    • Tobogganing
    • Christmas Fair and ‘Events’
    • Retail franchises
    • Ice-skating
    • Rail-road play area
    • High ropes course

The offering will be way-beyond the current operation of ATW at Honeybourne. It was also confirmed by representatives of ATW present that there would be glamping and camping on top of the holiday lodges shown.

  • Expected visitor numbers in excess of 200,000 per annum (see quotes of applicant and AC Lloydii on plans and expectations). 

Nigel Ford, of ATW, is quoted as saying, in 2019:

“We are currently situated on a 28-acre site and if we receive planning permission, we will be leasing an 80-acre site so we will be able to significantly increase our range of attractions along with our visitor centre and animal exhibits. At the moment, we attract around 100,000 visitors annually but our aim is to at least double that which we are confident could be achieved since we will be able to attract families who are visiting Stratford due to the improved location.”  Our underlining and emphasis.

Given current visitor numbers of 100,000 per annum (pre-Covid) at ATW’s existing 11-hectare (28 acre) site one would reasonably expect that to be 250,000+ given:

  • The increased and expanded offer, including holiday accommodation and a plan to ‘significantly increase’ the ‘range of attractions’ (applicant’s own words, 2019)
    • Their stated aims
    • The site area being three times that of the existing ATW site, at 32 ha (80 acres)
    • The need to cover the significant investment required to redevelop this sizeable ‘green’ agricultural and equestrian site.
  • Access off a B road, the B4632, which already has capacity issues.

In addition to the above the submitted Site Plan or Masterplan (ATW-2021-3) raises reasonable questions about the ultimate scale of development across the site. For example:

  • There is a sizeable area shown undeveloped to the NW corner of the site, adjacent and to north of the proposed car and coach park. This reasonably looks like a Phase II car-park expansion, that would more-than double the shown car park provision. It has been confirmed by ATW staff and their exhibited graphics and plans (at the walk-in event) that this will be car-parking. There is also ample room to the east of the staff-parking provision, alluding to a much larger operation than perhaps stated.
  • The Site Plan shows 45no. guest lodges or cottages, located approximately centrally and centre-east of the site. They are shown in ample grounds, with ample room about them for a substantial increase in their numbers. There are other ‘blank’ areas where similar use could reasonably be made. ATW confirm that glamping and camping would occur on site in addition.
  • In addition, there are sizeable tracts of land with not as-yet attributed uses, reasonably pointing at further phased development.

The true extent of development here, and from that, impacts, should not be underestimated.

The Context

The site is of a significant area (32 hectares/80 acres) and borders residential property, with other residential property opposite (west) at Willicote Pastures.

The site is predominantly agricultural with equestrian use in addition and sits as part of a wider open countryside landscape. 

The site is wholly within the Parish boundary of Clifford Chambers and Milcote, and importantly wholly within the designated Neighbourhood (Development) Plan (‘NP’) area of the Clifford Chambers and Milcote Neighbourhood Plan.

The site is accessed off the B4632, which has its own known limitations and constraints in terms of operating capacity, and road safety, and is having an ever-increasing harmful impact on local communities, including Clifford Chambers, which is located north and Stratford-side of the site.

The wider road network and communities also have known issues with traffic, notably, but not limited to Long Marston, Quinton, Preston, Welford and Binton.

Context – cumulative development and impacts

The B4632 has known capacity issues, based upon normal traffic flows and condition pre-Covid.

Further, the adopted Stratford on Avon Core Strategy (‘CS’) designates major development off the same B-road at Long Marston Airfield, CS policy LMA refers. Included within that are 3500 houses, 13hectares of employment development, 3no. schools and other development and supporting infrastructure.

In addition, developments and permissions at Meon Vale would see a further c1,000 dwellings established, again off the B4632.

And just this week Planning Committee at SDC is considering a speculative planning application (recommended for approval by Officers) for an additional 60 dwellings on land outside the LMA designation, but again off the B4632.

This is an inordinate level of localised development of itself in the open countryside that will significantly harm the capacity and safety of the B4632 and unacceptably harm the communities along and off the B4632, including our own community at Clifford Chambers.

A major tourism destination and accommodation site (on 32ha) on top of the above will undoubtedly have a significant impact.

The Need for EIA

With reference to the Regulations, the proposal is NOT Schedule 1 Development.

It is however Schedule 2 development.

In terms of Development Type the proposal falls under ‘Tourism and Leisure’ and under 12(d) ‘Theme Parks’ (Column 1 of the table), though 12(c) might also be relevant given the plans for 45no.+ holiday lodges and camping/glamping on top.

Working on 12 (d) Theme Parks, though, the Schedule 2 Criteria and Threshold of 0.5ha (Column 2 of the table) is readily met (the site area at 32ha is 64 times that area).

In terms of ‘Indicative Criteria and Threshold’ (column 3 in the table) it is clear that 2 if not 3 of the criteria are met, namely:

  1. It is a ‘Major new tourism and leisure developments which require a site of more than 10 hectares’. The proposed site area is 32ha (three times the threshold of 10ha)
  • It reasonably meets the criteria of ‘New theme parks which are expected to generate more than 250,000 visitors per year’. In 2019 ATW were quoted as wanting to at least double their then annual visitor number of 100,000 (pre-Covid). With a site increase of almost threefold (11 to 32ha), an entirely different and expanded offering with guest accommodation and events/attractions across the year (including Christmas) this could readily see in excess of 250,000 visitors per annum. Plus, the level of proposed visitor car parking of 1000 cars+, and coach/staff parking on top (as shown on the submitted Site Plan and the confirmed car park extension on graphics at the walk-in event, corroborated by ATW staff), points to a significant visitor number per annum, greater than 250,000, and
  • In terms of ‘Holiday villages or hotel complexes with more than 300 bed spaces’ the plans currently show 45 guest lodges (assumed to cater for minimum 4 persons). As has been pointed out already, there is ample room about those lodges for further accommodation. Even with 45 lodges that would be minimum 180 (45×4) bedspaces. There could readily be 300 bedspaces, notwithstanding that ATC confirmed at their walk-in event (Monday 5th July 2021) that there would be camping and glamping in addition too. The 300 threshold of bedspaces would readily be reached.

In terms ‘Key Issues to Consider’ these would include, but are not limited to:

  1. Traffic generation, and both in terms of the direct impact of the development itself AND cumulatively with existing, approved and allocated development to the B4632. This IS a significant development proposal and must not be downplayed in terms of potential impact on a B road with known capacity and highway safety issues. The significant impact would also affect surrounding country roads and communities, again with known capacity and highway safety issues, including our own.
  2. Visual Impact – here this would be across a number of considerations, including landscape impact and the impact of lighting on local residents and the night sky (light pollution and glow).
  3. Noise, air-quality– these likely significant impacts would be a consideration for local residents about the site (to south and west) but also other residents and communities on local roads, including Clifford Chambers, as a result of increased traffic movements.
  4. Resource impact – the proposals would realise the loss of 32 ha of predominantly agricultural land and natural habitats.

The conclusion is that this development WILL have several significant impacts on the environment and is well above stated and indicative EIA thresholds.