21 June 2019
WYG has won planning appeals for improvements to an animal and bird attraction at the Lake District National Park and World Heritage site in Ayside. The development is expected to bring in around £1.1m to the local economy.
The tourism attraction, Predator Experience, currently brings in roughly £600k to the local economy and supports a wide range of local services, such as hotels, restaurants, pubs and other attractions. Visitors can enjoy interactive experiences with a range of wild predators, including walking with wolves and flying golden eagles.
The business has needed to expand and build new premises to grow and comply with new animal welfare regulations, but the Local Planning Authority initially rejected its proposal. The WYG team provided its planning, landscape, and heritage advice to challenge the refusal of the scheme at Public Inquiry, and to belay concerns about potential landscape and heritage impacts.
Improvements to the visitor experience will include all-year round wet-weather flying facilities, viewing galleries, education rooms, and comfort facilities. Other additions include new wolf enclosures, a new dwelling, and buildings to include a reception, conference room, animal viewing rooms, staff room, animal hospital, improved disabled access, and more.
Julie Diamond, Principal Planner at WYG, said: “This is the right decision from the Planning Inspectorate and demonstrates the importance of getting expert local planning advice from a very early stage in the development process. We strongly believed in the merits of this planning case from the beginning and rigorously pursued our client’s objectives to finally arrive at a truly positive outcome.
She added: “It represents two very successful years of hard work for the applicants, Dee and Daniel Ashman, and our planning team at WYG. We are very pleased to be supporting prosperous economic developments in Cumbria.”
Dee Ashman, co-owner of Predator Experience said: “Our professional team of advisers have been wonderful and to know that WYG have had our backs and believed in our business from the outset, has been a constant reassurance when at times it felt like David versus Goliath.
“After a hugely challenging few years when we’ve not been able to take the business forward, we’re now excited to focus our efforts into the new development and create a world class visitor attraction in the world class environment of the Lake District.”
The Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership also voiced its support for the scheme, arguing that it meets a number of key objectives within its 2017 Cumbria and Rural Visitor Economy Growth Plan. Among its objectives, it sets out to create a vibrant rural and visitor economy.
The site lies on the edge of the hamlet of Ayside and is within the newly inscribed UNESCO World Heritage Site, with the existing business established in 2010. In addition to birds of prey displays and walks with wolf hybrids, the centre also hosts other animals like reindeer and foxes.
To learn more about Predator Experience, visit www.predatorexperience.co.uk.