A LUXURY eco-holiday resort is being added to Northumberland’s tourism strategy, even though it has been turned down for planning permission.
The 16-acre Waterfalls Estate at Ridsdale is currently on the drawing board while developer Sherod Walker awaits the decision of a planning inspector on whether he can go ahead.
But now the region’s culture and tourism board has given the development its backing and Northumberland Tourism has endorsed it as a key project in its five-year Area Tourism Management Plan (ATMaP).
Caroline Stewart, Northumberland Tourism deputy chief executive, said: “The panel felt the Waterfalls Estate project addresses accommodation need and demonstrates strong environmental ethos, and it has potential to make a positive contribution to Northumberland’s destination brand.
“The aim of the assessment process is for Northumberland’s public/private tourism partnership to understand and prioritise which key strategic projects are being developed in the county.”
Mr Walker wants to develop a 16-acre country estate including chalets, cottages, an equestrian centre and spa, but has been refused permission by the county council.
He took the case to appeal this month and a final decision from Government planning inspector Malcolm Rivett is expected in March.
However, Mr Walker said: “I’m absolutely delighted the board has assessed the scheme and considered it to be of strategic importance to the county. To be included in the document alongside the likes of Seaton Delaval Hall and Housesteads on Hadrian’s Wall is a wonderful achievement.
“Not only does the scheme have support from the tourism departments and representatives from the tourism community, but now it has been embedded into the future of Northumberland.”
Mr Walker claims the complex would create more than 100 construction jobs, 67 full-time posts, and inject £2m into the local economy.
The council turned down the plans on the basis of visual impact. A nearby wind turbine company also lodged objections.
If permission for Waterfalls Estate is refused again, Mr Walker has indicated he may re-submit a new application. He already has planning permission for three holiday cottages and two stables on land near his home on the estate.