PLANS have been approved to build 70 log cabins and a new visitor centre at Delamere Forest.
There was widespread opposition to the application by Forestry Commission and Forest Holidays, as campaign group Communities Against Delamere’s Destruction (CADD) gathered more than 3,600 petition signatures and placard holders demonstrated before the meeting.
But planning officers argued the scheme should be allowed to go ahead and the strategic planning committee of Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) backed that recommendation.
Nigel Gilding, co-founder of CADD, urged the committee to refuse permission for the development, which will include 70 luxury holiday cabins and a replacement visitor centre. He warned councillors the plans would damage the forest.
Delamere Parish Council also opposed the application, but the plans passed comfortably with eight councillors in favour, one against and one abstention.
Concerns were raised the development would impact on wildlife and finances would not stack up, but tourism body Visit England backed the proposals.
Cllr Stuart Parker, executive member for culture and recreation, spoke in favour of the application during the meeting.
Despite being approved, the application must now be referred to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which had said the development should be refused because of the pipeline to the south of the proposed lodge site.
Planning officer Adrian Crowther recommended the application for approval.
His report stated: “This application is all about the balance between on the one hand being inappropriate development in the greenbelt which is by definition harmful, and on the other the two very special circumstances advocated by the applicant, protecting and sustaining Delamere Forest as a public asset and the economic benefits it brings to the economy, together with the lack of identified harm.”