“Major benefit” from £3.5m plans

BUSINESS park owners who successfully applied to create a £3.5 million tourist site in Stoney Middleton and create up to 30 new jobs have said the project will prove a “major benefit” to the area.

Colin and David Hall have been given the go-ahead to pump cash into building a heritage centre and tourist accommodation on the site of the Rockmill Business Park.

The decision for outline planning permission was granted by Peak District National Park Authority on Friday.

Colin and David Hall said: “We believe the tourist development will be a major benefit to the village providing employment, community facilities and increased revenue for other local businesses.

“It will put the village on the map as the heritage centre will preserve the amazing history and legends for which the village will now be recognised.

“The development would not have been possible without the involvement and enthusiasm of the village and the parish council who have continually supported the scheme.”

The application had initially been set for rejection, but members of the planning committee admitted to being impressed by the plans.

Chairman John Herbert, said: “Members carefully considered this application and decided it should be an exception to our normal policy.

“It was strongly supported by the local community, who see this as an important site which acts as a gateway to the village and provides facilities for the community and visitors.

“The owners told the meeting that the redevelopment could create up to 30 jobs for local people. “We also felt that the impact of the buildings on the landscape was reduced because of its location in a gorge.”

The long-term vision for the site is to build the heritage centre and cafe, a community hall facility, craft shop and tourist accommodation with a mix of multi-bedroom and single-letting rooms, with parking spaces.

In addition, there will be craftwork units and two homes for people working on the site.

Planners gave the green light but insisted on conditions, including the cafe opening hours be set at 7am to 10pm, ensure the facilities are available to the nearby residents, that the holiday units are not occupied by an individual for more than 28 days, and that the surrounding environment is protected.

The application is now referred to the secretary of state for communities and local government because it is an exception to normal planning policies.