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Plans submitted for safari park in Watlington

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Plans to convert a former quarry site in Watlington to a safari park have been submitted to West Norfolk Council’s planning committee.

The application, submitted by Edward Pope of Watlington Farms, seeks permission to change the use of the former quarry site on land at Lynn Road to a wildlife park.

An illustration of how Watlington Safari Park could look. Photo courtesy of Rural Solutions Ltd.. (4376158)
An illustration of how Watlington Safari Park could look. Photo courtesy of Rural Solutions Ltd.. (4376158)

The Lynn News reported on the plans in January, when a brochure sent to residents in Watlington said that Watlington Safari Park would bring 237 full-time construction jobs and £3.57m to the local economy every year.

According to a planning statement as part of the application, produced by agents Rural Solutions Ltd, benefits of the park would include the creation of a unique conservation programme and educational resource, and encourage additional overnight stays in the area benefitting other local businesses.

It says the applicant describes his vision for the park as: “To provide an exceptional wildlife experience, with birds and animals behaving naturally despite some being thousands of miles from their native lands.

“Watlington Wildlife Park will be a place to relax, a place to learn and a place to explore.

“As a centre for conservation excellence, the park will offer the chance to see extraordinary, non-predatory wildlife close-up in a natural, open environment without cages or pens including markhor, zebra and buck, rare great bustards, flamingos, ibex and wildebeast.”

The statement adds that the main wildlife park site is the southern part of the Watlington Quarries site, which had been granted planning permission for sand and gravel extraction in 2000, but the quarrying of this area ceased in 2017.

“Whilst it is currently the intention to grow the number of visitors and associated supporting visitor buildings and accommodation in the future, this initial ‘soft start’ to the visitor experience will allow the applicant to capture public feedback on the Wildlife Park offer, and gain operational feedback, and thus help inform an appropriate scheme for the development of any visitor infrastructure on the site,” it adds.

At this stage in the process, the only development proposed to take place on the main site is the erection of “a 2.15 stock proof fence to keep the animals safely inside the site”.

“The fence will follow the perimeter of the site with a minimum 10m set back inside the site edges,” it adds.

A reception area will be provided in a temporary cabin style building on the northern site, close to a car park area for visitor and staff parking.

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