West Dorset: Furore over plans to upgrade Golden Cap caravan park (From Bridport and Lyme Regis News)
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West Dorset: Furore over plans to upgrade Golden Cap caravan park
CONTROVERSIAL plans to upgrade Golden Cap caravan park have stirred up a hornets nest of opposition.
They include a restaurant, indoor swimming poole, wildlife pond, laundry and static lodge-style caravans.
There are 133 representations on the planning application – the majority objecting – to West Dorset Leisure Holiday’s plans to revamp the park.
Holiday park owner Martin Cox stressed he must improve the park to keep the business competitive and said the old-fashioned ‘bucket and spade’ holiday was no longer enough to attract visitors.
Ranged against him are villagers and holidaymakers who say traffic will increase on what they call a ‘blot on the landscape’.
As well as individual protests The Chideock Society and the parish council oppose the plans which would see the park open for 11 months of the year, the replacement of touring caravans with static ones, as well as a new staff car park, a 440-plus seat restaurant and laundry.
However, West Dorset District Council senior economic regeneration officer Trevor Hedger and Nick Thornley leisure and tourism manager both think the plans will boost tourism and provide employment for local people.
County highways officer Ian Madgwick says getting rid of the towed caravans would represent a considerable improvement in summer traffic congestion.
Mr Cox said the family-owned park is operating at well below its potential.
He said: “This is mainly because of the lack of good quality leisure and all-weather facilities which tourists expect to find at holiday parks of this size.
“Golden Cap’s location and the old-fashioned bucket and spade holiday are no longer sufficient attractions for the park to compete in today’s highly competitive tourism industry.”
In order to secure its future the park needs to modernise, added Mr Cox’s son James.
He said it would also benefit the local economy.
“The idea is to extend the season, we want to reduce the amount of impact during the peak eight weeks and we want to get more people coming out of the summer months because that is the way you get jobs.
“Golden Cap has the potential to be one of the premier family caravan parks on the Dorset coast,” he added.
Objectors say it will do nothing for residents but bring more traffic, more pollution and harm existing businesses.
Visitor Richard Pring said: “I and my wife were shocked to learn that this incredibly beautiful part of the Dorset coast could be further spoilt.
“Surely the beauty of the Jurassic coastland is unique and should be preserved as part of our national heritage?”
Eleanor Petrie from Chideock said the extra accommodation would not decrease traffic.
She said: “We risk killing the golden goose.
“It will threaten the survival of many small local businesses.”
Roger Carey of Pettycrate Lane said it would be a ‘blot on the landscape’.
“The small hamlet of Seatown will be swamped with buildings and people and not benefit residents.”
Caroline Langdon of Main Street, Chideock said: “The increase in traffic in Duck Street is already at capacity and to extend the season on this narrow back road would be madness.”
Objectors also argue that the on-site restaurant will take trade from village pubs and the increased accommodation offered will harm existing bed and breakfasts.e The plan will be discussed by West Dorset District Council at a date to be confirmed.