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.
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.
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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
Therme Group announces development plans to roll out wellbeing resorts across UK
Following approval to build a £250mn wellbeing resort in Manchester, Therme Group has revealed plans to develop and expand its concept in other major UK cities.
COVID-19 stimulus package – VAT cut for hospitality, companies to get apprenticeship funding
The hospitality and attractions sectors will benefit from a temporary cut to VAT as part of stimulus measures announced by chancellor Rishi Sunak.
Eureka! reveals new designs for Eureka! Mersey – construction to begin in 2021
New concept designs and visuals have been released for the Eureka! Mersey project – a £11.75m children's visitor attraction being developed in Liverpool, UK.
Thermal project set to ‘redefine city wellbeing’ on track for 2023 opening
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COMPANY PROFILES
TOR Systems Ltd

TOR Systems have been in this business since 1981. [more...]
IDEATTACK

IDEATTACK is a full-service planning and design company with headquarters in Los Angeles. [more...]
instantprint

We’re a Yorkshire-based online printer, founded in 2009 by Adam Carnell and James Kinsella. [more...]
Holovis

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

Animalive - Introducing AnimaChat!
Introducing AnimaChat, one operator can live-stream into multiple venues. Find out more...
More videos:
Experience the experience – Polin Waterparks & Pool Systems
+ More videos  

CATALOGUE GALLERY
+ More catalogues  
DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

08 Oct 2020

VAC 2020 (The Annual National Conference of Visitor Attractions)

Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, London, United Kingdom
17-23 Oct 2020

World Leisure Congress 2020

Pinggu, Beijing, China
+ More diary  
 


ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media, Portmill House, Portmill Lane,
Hitchin, Hertfordshire SG5 1DJ Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2020

ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
LEISURE MEDIA MAGAZINES
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