MASSIVE changes are being planned to transform the site surrounding the George Albert Hotel at Wardon Hill into a five-star luxury holiday lodge site.

Many of the older buildings on the hilltop site together with the Clay Pigeon race circuit and the Southern Counties shooting ground will be removed if the plans are approved. The hotel and spa will remain in place as will a water tower.

The application for the 18.6 hectare site has been submitted by a North Wales planning and design company, Lambe Planning & Design. It asks for approval for around 180 two and three-bed lodges together with staff accommodation.

The company says the scheme will create the equivalent of almost 80 new full-time jobs and will bring to Dorset a five-star lodge holiday home scheme on a landscaped site which will be dotted with lakes and ponds.

Parking for more than 320 cars alongside the lodges is included in the application.

The consent for a change of use is not expected to come before councillors but will be decided by a Dorset Council planning officer under delegated powers.

Comments on the change of use application, which falls within the Sydling St Nicholas parish council area, remain open until the end of December.

Businesses and static caravan homes on the site will continue to operate as normal while the planning process, which could take several months, is concluded.

The racing circuit will also continue. The site has not only been a favourite with local people but has, in the past, seen many battles on the karting championship circuit with some drivers who now race at national level cutting their racing teeth around its bends.

The Southern Counties Shooting Ground, which started in 1953, has seen many international competitions over the decades and was one of the training grounds for members of previous UK’s Olympic shooting teams. A gun shop remains on the site and, like other businesses, will continue to trade until the planning consent has been decided and either acted on, or not proceeded with.