£80m West Midlands Safari Park development plans approved by council bosses
An £80 million scheme to expand West Midland Safari Park has passed a major hurdle after being approved by council bosses who welcomed the 'exciting' vision for the future of the attraction.
A water park, 250-bed hotel, conference centre and spa will be built.
The application was unanimously approved by Wyre Forest District Council's planning committee on Tuesday night.
The move means the development is now closer to coming to fruition after years of planning, though highways concerns continue to dog the project.
Regeneration chief John Campion welcomed the proposals but said issues regarding roads still needed to be overcome.
Residents living near the park fear the development will cause chaos on the roads surrounding the park.
Councillor Campion said: "This is an absolutely great thing for the local community and represents a decade's worth of work with the safari park.
"It is an exciting investment for the district. There are still some highways concerns to be resolved but I am confident we can work with the county council to overcome these."
Residents have complained that the scheme is 'totally inappropriate' for the area and say the A456 becomes gridlocked when the park holds major events or on bank holidays.
The water park has been designed to operate entirely independently of the proposed hotel and conference centre.
Bosses said the approval of the scheme was a 'significant step forward' after years of hard work.
Planning consultants RPS said a date had not yet been set for work to begin but that it hoped it would be 'as soon as possible'.
But officials said the impact of the development on the highway network had been thoroughly considered and was judged to be acceptable.
They said concerns over noise and air quality had also been considered through technical reports which had concluded no adverse impact would arise from sound.
A design statement from RPS submitted with the plans said: "The development would upgrade and improve the viability of the attraction; allow for the potential of heathland restoration and recreation; is appropriate to the park's function as a major tourism destination and will make a positive contribution to the local community."
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