Site visit needed to aqua park before planning application can be decided

Scarborough Council’s chief executive has decided that a way must be found for councillors to carry out a coronavirus-safe site visit to an aqua park before a planning application can be decided.

By Carl Gavaghan, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Tuesday, 16th June 2020, 7:00 am
Aqua park
Aqua park

Earlier this year, the Dawnay Estates applied to the council to remove a restriction placed on it from a previous application that stopped the Wykeham Lake business from operating all year round.

Planning councillors in March decided that before they could make any decision they wanted to visit the site due to concerns about the impact the inflatable assault course and wakeboarding lines would have on wildlife, in particular the local bird populations.

After the Covid-19 pandemic hit the council’s planning officers asked chief executive Mike Greene to allow the committee to decide on the application without a site visit.

A report prepared for Mr Greene said: “In the respect of the site visit, a key consideration is whether it could take place in a safe manner which complies with the government’s Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

“Since the original report was written the government has relaxed certain rules, but there would still be challenges associated with a site visit for up to 17 members, plus two or three officers and possibly a representative for the applicants.”

The planning committee was split on the idea of losing the site visit, with four councillors in favour of not going while three others felt it was necessary to go to be able to address concerns.

Cllr Clive Pearson was one of those who said the site visit should go ahead. In his reasons, he told planning officers: “If anything did go wrong on the site it is the local councillors not the planning officers who will get the phone calls, emails and letters from constituents.”

Mr Greene agreed that the site visit should take place before the committee decides on the application and on Friday said that “officers explore the means by which a committee site visit could be undertaken” in line with regulations.

The park opened in 2017, offering visitors two aquatic challenge tracks alongside pedalos and open water swimming.

Last year, it succeeded in getting the approval to grow the operation to include the creation of an “aqua park zone” which consists of inflatable equipment that will form an aquatic obstacle course.

The expansion also included the installation of two 240m long wakeboarding lines, the redesign of a toilet block, the building of a new reception building and the erection of a café on the site.