PLANS for a major holiday park development in West Dorset have been described as a ‘unique and extraordinary opportunity’ to boost the area’s economy and environment.

Habitat First Group has submitted a planning application for up to 1,000 holiday chalets and lodges at Warmwell Quarry at Crossways in a bid to rejuvenate the 560-acre site where work is due to cease by 2017.

The application for the Silverlake scheme is due to be heard by members of West Dorset District Council tomorrow and is being recommended for approval, subject to conditions, if concerns over highways issues can be overcome.

If the plans go ahead, construction of the development will generate £470million in the local economy over the next 20 to 30 years and create more than 500 jobs. Once the site is operational visitors are expected to bring in over £20million a year to support around 470 jobs, including 123 on site.

The scheme also includes a country club and spa and a hotel as well as open spaces that will act as a haven for local wildlife.

Will Vicary, managing director of Habitat First Group, said: “Habitat First have put forward a plan to bring enormous economic, conservation and leisure benefits to the region and we look forward to hearing the application at the committee.

“The long term, sustainable plan for Warmwell Quarry has been developed with the help of the local community and conservation agencies as well as visitors who want to experience the best that Dorset has to offer.”

The main issue the application has to overcome is concerns raised by the Highways Agency concerning the impact of the development on the surrounding road network, particularly the Max Gate junction of the A35.

A report prepared by council officers says that the applicants have accepted the concerns and is working with the Highways Agency to find a solution.

The report states: “At the time of writing this report the Highways Agency is confident that there will be a solution to this problem, but has not been able to agree what that will be.”

One other sticking point currently outstanding could be an objection from Network Rail on the development’s impact on the nearby Woodsford level crossing.

Council officers claim they would be ‘uncomfortable’ about recommending approval of the scheme with Network Rail’s objection outstanding but say discussions are ongoing amid suggestions it may be willing to withdraw the objection if an alternative route can be guaranteed.