Wyre Council leader Coun Peter Gibson has predicted work could begin soon on a £9m tourism project in Bilsborrow.
He will tell Wyre Council on Thursday of progress on upmarket holiday specialist Natural Retreats’ ambitious plans to create 46-high quality self-catering lodges and a trail head visitor centre at the Duke of Lancaster Park, Bilsborrow.
In a report to councillors he says he anticipates work will commence in the next six months, following the success of Natural Retreats’ bid to the Lancashire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) for £4.5m of Growing Places funding. Natural Retreats won planning permission for its holiday village scheme on Duchy of Lancaster-owned land at Myerscough more than a year ago.
Once the project gets off, the ground it will be the biggest commercial investment locally since the opening of the Barton Grange Garden centre and the new Garstang Booths store.
The holiday village plan has replaced the previous, now scrapped, plans to develop the site as a major agricultural/equine showground and base for the Royal Lancashire Show.
It’s anticipated the development at Planks Farm would effectively be like a mini-Center Parcs, including walking and biking trails and holiday lodges in a landscaped wooded setting.
The developers have previously pledged to use local builders and suppliers – a move welcomed by community leaders.
It is understood up to 20 full and part-time jobs will be created when the site is fully operational, including general manager /assistant managers for accommodation, management of trailhead and visitor centre, housekeepers, general internal/external maintenance and landscaping.
The future of the ambitious project, which will boost tourism in Garstang and district, was raised by Wyre Council leader Coun Peter Gibson in April, when he told councillors: “Since securing planning permission the company has, despite a very strong business case and previous track record, failed to secure bank funding.
“At £9 million the development represents a significant investment into the rural area not only creating permanent jobs but also opportunities for the supply chain.”
When initially mooted some two years ago the cost of the scheme, which will be eco-friendly, was put at around £6m.
Previous publicity about the plans said the lodges would be single level and incorporate the latest eco-friendly features, which include sedum roofs, sustainable timber, passive solar floor-to-ceiling glazing, bio-mass heaters and recycled floor and wall insulation.
The lodges would be based on the design of the units at Natural Retreat’s Yorkshire Dales site near Richmond.