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Plans for 1,000 holiday chalets when quarry closes
WEST Dorset is set for a multi-million boost and the creation of up to 750 jobs in an ambitious holiday park development.
Habitat First Group is planning to build up to 1,000 holiday chalets and lodges at Warmwell Quarry and claims construction the scheme will generate £470million in the local economy over the next 20 to 30 years as well as creating up to 750 jobs.
The 560-acre site is currently used by Aggregate Industries for large scale sand and gravel extraction but quarrying is due to cease by 2017.
As well as holiday accommodation the proposed development, which will be called Silverlake, will also boast a country club and spa and a hotel as well as open spaces that will protect and encourage hundreds of species of local wildlife.
Habitat First Group, which already runs award-winning sustainable holiday accommodation in the Cotswolds, claims the scheme will prove to be a 'key economic driver for the future of West Dorset' with over half the investment spent with local businesses.
It also claims that of the 573 construction jobs that will be created, 286 will be with local firms and another 180 full-time jobs will be created when the scheme is completed.
Managing director Will Vicary said: “We are planning to create a truly unique concept for Dorset which boosts the economy, protects and manages the environment and benefits the local community with a long-term strategic plan for the quarry.
“Habitat First has a strong track record of delivering award-winning chalets and lodges which not only offer relaxing accommodation and leisure facilities, but which also protect the wildlife and wider habitat in the area.”
He added: “Silverlake provides a sustainable solution to the future of the quarry and will also supply an economic updraft which will be felt across the local region - from Crossways to Dorchester, from Weymouth to Poundbury and the Heritage Coast.”
Habitat First is also promising to preserve important relics on the site that remain from the area's previous existence as a World War Two airfield and says it has worked with experts and to assess the ecological aspects on the site in detail.
It has also been consulting with the local community for over a year.
According to the developers, Silverlake would “create an environment of wide open spaces, high-quality landscaping and recreation facilities for local people, as well as use creative design built on the key principles of sustainability, energy efficiency and biodiversity”.
They say the aim throughout is to protect and encourage wildlife at the site, with species surveys having been carried out to identify the key areas of ecological importance for breeding birds, reptiles, dormouse, otter, water vole, invertebrates and bats for example.
During 2012, a team of ecologists, hydrologists, engineers, landscape architects, archaeologists and transport advisers assessed the site in detail.
The plan states: “As well as the development of the site itself, which is very well concealed from its immediate surroundings, the plans include a focus on supporting the local tourist economy while protecting the environment - with the use of buses linking Silverlake with Moreton Station, Dorchester, Weymouth, Poundbury and the coast, as well as the creation of cycling and foot paths so as to discourage car use.”
Habitat First Group believes that this major investment in the area will offer a sustainable development boosting the local economy, enhancing and managing the local environment, as well as delivering hundreds of jobs and facilities to local people.
Crossways Parish Council
THE chariman of Crossways Parish Council said that, while the plans for Silverlake are in their early stages, the proposal appears almost 'too good to be true'.
Andrew Brewer said that the scheme appears to be a fitting use for the Warmwell Quarry site and the jobs and investment it would bring to the area were to be welcomed.
Councillor Brewer said Habitat First Group had held a two-day exhibition in the village to canvas the opinion of local residents and he was unaware of any negative feedback so far.
He said: “I have got to say that the company's actions in terms of its cooperation with the community and wanting to work with us has certainly refreshing and is to be welcomed.
“They came in and spoke to us first and listened and in some ways it sounds too good to be true.
“It will preserve the natural environment on the edge of the village and will provide an awful lot of jobs while the village will have access to a lot of the facilities there.”
Coun Brewer said Habitat First's track record suggested it would be true to its claims that it would use local contractors and create jobs for local people while it has also indicated it would make contributions to local community infrastructure.
He said: “The figures they are talking about here as to what they can put into the local economy are phenomenal.”
Coun Brewer added: “Tourism is one of the ways forward for this part of the world, we are a retirement area but we have also got a lot of young people and the leisure and tourism industry is the life blood of Dorset.”
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