Major plans for an £11m visitor and landscape discovery centre in Northumberland have been given the green light.
After almost two weeks of waiting, an official decision means the plans for The Sill National Landscape Discovery Centre have been given the go-ahead.
The proposal by Northumberland National Park Authority, at Once Brewed on the central section of Hadrian’s Wall, was put on hold despite being approved by the park authority’s development management committee earlier this month, after a third party referred the application to the Department for Communities and Local Government Planning Casework Unit.
But the £11.2m initiative passed a significant milestone this week as the Planning Casework Team decided not to call in the application, paving the way for planning consent to be granted as approved by the committee on September 18.
The new centre is to replace the existing 1960s Once Brewed facilities with a flagship visitor attraction, training and educational centre.
Northumberland National Park Authority Chairman, Coun John Riddle, said: “We are delighted plans for The Sill National Landscape Discovery Centre can now move forward, as the Department for Communities and Local Government have confirmed that the Local Planning Authority can issue the planning approval.
“Receiving confirmation that the Department for Communities and Local Government does not wish to intervene is great news for the project.
“This backs up the decision taken at local level and demonstrates that the Secretary of State is content for the project to go ahead.
“The long term gains of the project include economic growth and job creation which will offer a step-change benefit for the whole of the North East and then there are the benefits you just cannot put a price on – including the impact the project will have on young people from a training and educational perspective.
“I would like to thank everyone who has supported The Sill project to date and contributed throughout the extensive consultation process, to help shape plans for this exciting new development.
“We look forward to working with our partners across the county and beyond to help realise the vision for The Sill.”
Consultation has played a huge part in a participative design process, with over 1,700 members of the public sharing their ideas and feedback.
Stuart Evans, Sill project director at Northumberland National Park Authority, said: “From the outset, The Sill project has involved the whole community, inviting people to participate and share their thoughts and feedback. We want to create a centre which everyone can be proud of.
“As part of the next stage of development, we want to continue this process and invite anyone who would like to contribute to come forward and help us realise the project’s full potential.
“Working together, we have such a wonderful opportunity through The Sill to compliment and support the excellent tourism offer in our region and open up the landscape to a whole new audience.”
The long-term economic benefits of The Sill predict above 100,000 visitors per annum, upwards of 117 new jobs created every year and a net impact of almost £3m to the region.
The team now looks to push on to achieve £3m match funding needed as well as submitting its bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the remaining £6.9m, with an outcome expected early 2015.