Center Parcs CEO Martin Dalby calls for overhaul of ‘ridiculous’ UK planning process | attractionsmanagement.com news
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Center Parcs CEO Martin Dalby calls for overhaul of ‘ridiculous’ UK planning process
POSTED 06 Jun 2014 . BY Jak Phillips
As Center Parcs today opens its new £250m Woburn Forest holiday resort, CEO Martin Dalby has called for the UK government to take the development of major leisure investments more seriously.

Talking exclusively to Leisure Opportunities, Dalby urged a rethink in the planning process for major developments, and revealed that Center Parcs is now looking to Ireland for its next project.

He said: "When big investments like this come along, there should be a way of bypassing the local authority to get it built – there needs to be someone in government responsible for these big projects."

According to Dalby, Center Parcs spent £5m just getting the Woburn site through planning and – more importantly – the process took five years, thereby depriving the area of valuable employment opportunities at the height of the recession. "When we announced the project in 2004, we said we'd open in 2008. We would have achieved that deadline, and then the area could have had the benefit of all those jobs right throughout the recession,” he said.

"When we submitted the application, the council spent a year just looking at it – It was ridiculous. We had to go through that local planning process with local people who didn't really understand what we were doing. Lots of companies wouldn't have taken that risk and wouldn't have invested. There's got to be a faster way than it taking five years.

"This was such a great site that we believed in our project and persevered - it's an amazing forest and perfect for Center Parcs and that's where our determination came from, because even our barristers advised us it would be a tough battle.

"But our credentials – at Longleat and our other sites – showed that we mean what we say. When we say there are 1,500 jobs we mean it."

The Blackstone Group-owned resort operator launched the new £250m complex this morning (6 June). It will feature 625 lodges, a 75-bedroom hotel, Center Parcs’ largest Subtropical Swimming Paradise and an Aqua Sana spa.

"What was fantastic about this scheme is that the secretary of state overrode her own inspector to get it through, because she recognised the positive impact it would have on jobs and tourism. This Center Parcs development will put £20m into the local economy each year in wages, salaries and expenditure through local businesses – she recognised that and those things outweighed the negatives of building in the green belt.

But in spite of it being a huge success story for UK PLC, Dalby says Center Parcs has no contact with government, and believes this to be a recurring theme for the leisure sector. "Generally, I don't feel anyone champions us in government as a sector," he added. "We don't have any contact with them at all. We've had good support at local level from our MP, but we plough our own furrow."

Dalby said that this fifth and final Center Parcs site completes the portfolio in England, with a development in Ireland the most likely next step.
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Jobs   News   Products   Magazine
NEWS
Center Parcs CEO Martin Dalby calls for overhaul of ‘ridiculous’ UK planning process
POSTED 06 Jun 2014 . BY Jak Phillips
As Center Parcs today opens its new £250m Woburn Forest holiday resort, CEO Martin Dalby has called for the UK government to take the development of major leisure investments more seriously.

Talking exclusively to Leisure Opportunities, Dalby urged a rethink in the planning process for major developments, and revealed that Center Parcs is now looking to Ireland for its next project.

He said: "When big investments like this come along, there should be a way of bypassing the local authority to get it built – there needs to be someone in government responsible for these big projects."

According to Dalby, Center Parcs spent £5m just getting the Woburn site through planning and – more importantly – the process took five years, thereby depriving the area of valuable employment opportunities at the height of the recession. "When we announced the project in 2004, we said we'd open in 2008. We would have achieved that deadline, and then the area could have had the benefit of all those jobs right throughout the recession,” he said.

"When we submitted the application, the council spent a year just looking at it – It was ridiculous. We had to go through that local planning process with local people who didn't really understand what we were doing. Lots of companies wouldn't have taken that risk and wouldn't have invested. There's got to be a faster way than it taking five years.

"This was such a great site that we believed in our project and persevered - it's an amazing forest and perfect for Center Parcs and that's where our determination came from, because even our barristers advised us it would be a tough battle.

"But our credentials – at Longleat and our other sites – showed that we mean what we say. When we say there are 1,500 jobs we mean it."

The Blackstone Group-owned resort operator launched the new £250m complex this morning (6 June). It will feature 625 lodges, a 75-bedroom hotel, Center Parcs’ largest Subtropical Swimming Paradise and an Aqua Sana spa.

"What was fantastic about this scheme is that the secretary of state overrode her own inspector to get it through, because she recognised the positive impact it would have on jobs and tourism. This Center Parcs development will put £20m into the local economy each year in wages, salaries and expenditure through local businesses – she recognised that and those things outweighed the negatives of building in the green belt.

But in spite of it being a huge success story for UK PLC, Dalby says Center Parcs has no contact with government, and believes this to be a recurring theme for the leisure sector. "Generally, I don't feel anyone champions us in government as a sector," he added. "We don't have any contact with them at all. We've had good support at local level from our MP, but we plough our own furrow."

Dalby said that this fifth and final Center Parcs site completes the portfolio in England, with a development in Ireland the most likely next step.
RELATED STORIES
Center Parcs reveals opening date for Woburn Forest


After two years’ construction and 10 years’ conception, the UK’s fifth Center Parcs resort will open at Woburn Forest on Friday 6 June.
Center Parcs unveils hotel at soon-to-open Woburn Forest


Center Parcs has announced that work on the 75-bedroom ‘Hotel’ at Woburn Forest is now complete as the The Blackstone Group-owned resort operator targets a late spring opening for what will be its fifth UK location.
Center Parcs advert controversy sparks calls for debate over term time school holidays


The controversy surrounding a Center Parcs TV advert which fell foul of the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) for offering discount family-themed breaks only available during school-term time, has led to tourism industry calls for a review of the policy of fining parents for taking children on term time breaks.
MORE NEWS
OdySea Aquarium entertains quarantined guests with new online initiatives
OdySea Aquarium in Scottsdale, Arizona, has launched two online initiatives to help keep guests entertained and engaged with the aquarium during its enforced closure.
National parks in Africa close down to protect endangered gorillas and chimpanzees from coronavirus
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Public comes to zoo's aid following call for animal food donations
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Sally Corporation

Our services include: Dark ride design & build; Redevelopment of existing attractions; High-quality [more...]
Antonio Zamperla Spa

Founded in 1966, the Antonio Zamperla SPA is privately owned by Mr Alberto Zamperla. Located in Vi [more...]
FORREC Ltd

We create guest experiences others don’t, masterplan like no one else can, and give the world’s bi [more...]
Holovis

Holovis is a privately owned company established in 2004 by CEO Stuart Hetherington. [more...]
+ More profiles  
FEATURED SUPPLIER

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A buoyant EAG International has welcomed in the new decade as a well-rounded event with high levels of optimism and positivity on the show floor. [more...]
VIDEO GALLERY

Red Raion - Trailer Pinocchio - A Modern Tale VR
Red Raion is the CGI studio specialized in media based attraction. Find out more...
More videos:
Experience the experience – Polin Waterparks & Pool Systems
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+ More videos  

CATALOGUE GALLERY
+ More catalogues  
DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

31 Mar - 02 Apr 2020

World Travel Market Latin America

Expo Center Norte, Sao Paulo, Brazil
08 Oct 2020

VAC 2020 (The Annual National Conference of Visitor Attractions)

Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, London, United Kingdom
+ More diary  
 


ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

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Hitchin, Hertfordshire SG5 1DJ Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

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