Saturday, 06 February 2016

Plan for luxury holiday complex a step closer

AMBITIOUS plans for a prestigious new multi-million pound holiday complex for Grange have moved a big step closer.

Proposals to transform the ex-scientific research centre at Merlewood into a £9m development of luxury holiday apartments have been submitted to South Lakeland council planners.

Situated on the outskirts of Grange, the development ofMerlewood would provide a welcome boost to the economy of the town.

The planning application has been submitted by the Holiday Property Bond company which has prestigious holiday complexes worldwide.

Holiday Property Bond has agreed to buy Merlewood subject to planning approval. SLDC planning officer for Grange, Fiona Clark said plans have now been received from Holiday Property Bond for Merlewood.

However, she said because it is an extensive planning application consultations have to take place with many different organisations.

She said: “Merlewood is a Grade II listed building and this is quite an extensive planning application and there are a lot of issues involved.”

Mrs Clark said among organisations to be consulted are English Heritage, the Georgian Society, the Victorian Society, Ancient Monuments Society, Natural England and Cumbria Wildlife Trust.

She said others to be consulted included the Environment Agency, the county highways authority, drainage engineers, environmental health, Grange Town Council and Cumbria Tourism.

“If the planning application goes forward to the committee it is likely be the meeting at the end of May,” she said.

Merlewood was originally built for the family of First World War poet Lawrence Binyon.

When plans for Merlewood were first revealed Geoffrey Baber, managing director of HPB Management, confirmed that they propose to convert the property into a holiday complex.

Mr Baber said bond holders staying at the complex could spend more than £1.2m annually in local restaurants, shops, pubs and tourist attractions in the area.

He told the Evening Mail that the figure was based on an average spend of £175 per visit on food and other items apart from accommodation.

He said: “We anticipate submitting a planning application by the end of the month. We want to create between 45 and 55 units of accommodation of the highest stands.

“They would range from one to three bedroom apartments and cottages and be available for use all year round, with an anticipated occupancy of 85 per cent.”

Mr Baber said there would also be an indoor leisure centre for use by visiting bond holders.


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