Plans for a £50m leisure project in Northumberland look set to be lodged in the near future.
Active Leisure Resorts is in the final stages of drawing up a planning application for a holiday village and adventure park that could bring 700 jobs to the former Steadsburn opencast site near Widdrington.
The company is holding a consultation event later this month to discuss its plans, which include creating the UK’s first artificial adventure slope for climbing, caving and gorge walking, an artificial ski slope with luge track and jumps, 50-acre lake, off-road driving courses and the biggest tree house adventure playground in the country.
There would also be a leisure hub with swimming pool, equestrian facilities, a retail centre, 400 eco holiday homes and 100 camping pods.
Company chief executive Chris Davies said: “The plans are a lot more advanced now. Things are moving very quickly.
“We could be ready to submit a detailed planning application by the end of February.
“It is getting pretty exciting because I have worked on the site for eight, nine years and what was concept is reality.
“The penny is beginning to drop now that it is actually happening.”
The scheme would cover almost 800 acres of the 2,500 acres at Steadsburn, Maidens Hall and Stobswood opencast sites identified by the Widdrington Regeneration Partnership (WRP) for leisure re-development.
Mr Davies said: “We have got 800 of the 2,500 acres so our focus is on delivering an active lifestyle resort.”
“If we just had the holiday village it would resemble most other holiday parks, but we wanted to have a ski slope and canyon.
“The lake is filling up nicely now.
“There will be two to three different lakes, but the main one covers 50 acres and is seven-tenths full now.
“It can offer everything from fishing to sailing.”
However, Widdrington Village Parish Council Chairman Valerie Seddon warned that residents are concerned about the scheme.
She said: “We are very pleased that Active Leisure is going to be coming to Widdrington Village to talk to people because we have been asking for some time to have some consultation here as the majority of the scheme would be in our parish.
“It is a positive step forward, but it remains to be seen how much support there will be.
“It is going to really change the character of the parish.
“It has mainly been agriculture here and a lot of people are very upset to have such a big change.
“We held a residents’ forum in November and there was very little support for the plans we saw then.
“We really need to wait to see what the final proposals are.
“I very much hope that Active Leisure will listen to what residents are saying and will be prepared to alter its proposals otherwise there really won’t be very much support.”
The consultation events will take place at Widdrington WI Hall on Friday, January 24, from 2pm to 7pm and on Saturday, January 25, from 11am to 6pm.