Struggling Devon visitor attraction to build 15 holiday lodges

An artist's impression of the holiday lodges for Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park. Image courtesy: North Devon Council -Credit:North Devon Council
An artist's impression of the holiday lodges for Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park. Image courtesy: North Devon Council -Credit:North Devon Council

A struggling long-established tourist attraction in North Devon which says it has only survived in recent years because of Covid-19 support grants has won approval to build 15 holiday lodges on its land to "secure its future".

The Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park wanted to develop the overflow parking area for 22 lodges but reduced this to 15 after opposition from local residents, the North Devon Coast National Landscape and Exmoor National Park.

There was concern that the development would be prominent in the landscape and have a negative effect on the local bat population.


Exmoor National Park said: "When viewed from the national park, the lodges would extend up the hillside and would sit above the treeline, appearing separate from the wooded complex of the wildlife park where most buildings and parking areas are screened by trees."

The applicants revised their plans to add more landscaping, reduce the density and remove roof lights from the lodges.

Planning officers from North Devon Council said they recognised the importance of the park to the local economy and that it also housed a large number of rare species.

The application was approved by the council subject to planning conditions including tying the use of the holiday lodges to the park and for short term holiday use only.

Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park said the enterprise was in an "increasingly precarious financial position".

"In recent times the park has made a year-on-year loss and only Covid-19 support grants have ensured the continuation of the business," it said.

"The lodges would help to diversify the park's offer and generate a new income stream which would "mitigate the park's losses, service finance to deliver the project and allow the business to develop plans for the future including further educational, conservation and community-focused work".

Seventeen letters of objection were submitted to North Devon Council from local residents who said the tranquillity of the area would be eroded, it would impact local services and facilities and the designated landscape and national park.

One said the area was already "excessively endowed" with holiday accommodation such as house and apartment lettings, campsites and caravan parks.

"The local infrastructure struggles at present with problems presented by the huge influx in visitors in the holiday season...the planning authority should be seeking to contain any increase in visitor accommodation," they said.

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