Local entrepreneur’s £3m investment plans blocked by North Warwickshire Borough Council.
The owner of the Heart of England Conference and Events Centre in Fillongley is re-considering his investment plans after £3 million proposals to improve and extend corporate facilities were rejected by North Warwickshire Borough Council.
The decision taken by the council’s Planning and Development Board was based on information presented in a 106-page document prepared by the council’s planning officers. It recommended the 10 planning applications should be turned down.
The planned improvements had included building a 15-bedroom hotel, a new visitor centre in the woodland and an off-road trail for 4x4 driving as well as a camping and caravan site for leisure visitors.
Now Stephen Hammon, managing director of Heart of England Conference and Events Centre, intends to take the matter further.
He said: “We have gone through the documentation prepared in detail and we have decided to put forward a complaint and appeal all of the decisions.
“Prior to seeing the planning s report, we had no knowledge that the recommendation was for refusal. As we had been working with them for the last 12 months, this is very disappointing.
“I feel very angry and – to be honest – bitter about the whole experience.
This has taken us years of planning, and I just feel we are being blocked at every turn.
“We are financing this ourselves, we are trying to be constructive in what we are doing in terms of development but every door seems shut to us.
“At a time when there is no sign of the economy picking up I am prepared to buck the trend and invest money in my business and create jobs for local people.
“The decision to turn down our application will put in jeopardy the jobs of the existing 30 employees and will make impossible the creation of much needed new local job opportunities. It will also effect various local small business that supply goods and services to us.
“I was under the impression the role of the council was to work with local business’ to help bolster local employment prospects.”
The decision came hot on the heels of encouraging visitor figures for the centre.
Hammon added: “Last year the visitor numbers for each event was higher than in the previous 12 months which was a fantastic
endorsement that we are providing the kind of events and activities that proved popular with both families and corporate delegates.”
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