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Friday, 31 October 2014

Mixed reaction to Lake District hotel’s conference venue plans

A MAJOR convention centre project on the shores of Windermere goes before planners after winning praise and opposition from local and county groups.

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MODERN: Artists impression of the proposed Low Wood Convention Centre, and, inset, Simon Berry, manageing director of English Lakes hotel group Main picture Submitted by A White

The application, for the Low Wood Hotel between Windermere and Ambleside, will be discussed by Lake District planners on Wednesday. (May 2)

It is hoped the development will be a five-star venue – attracting new business and visitors to the region and helping to boost the local economy.

The application includes detail on car parking and a lake-source heat pump.

The centre would be built on the opposite side of the A591 to the grade-II listed hotel building – with the existing watersports centre moved to nearby motorboat garages.

An in-depth report on the facility claims the structure has been designed to cater for conferences, seminars, exhibitions, conventions, displays, concerts and product launches.

The report to Lake District planners states: “The proposed building has been designed to be a standalone and iconic landmark complementing its location in the heart of the lakes.

“Emphasis, according to the scheme’s architect, has been given to strong visual references to the building’s context and location, maximisation of the views to the lakes and high fells beyond and use of the best, modern, environmentally friendly techniques of construction.”

But there are objections to the proposal, by English Lakes Hotels, which owns the Low Wood.

Eight nearby residents have raised concerns about the size and nature of the proposed building.

Ambleside Civic Trust and Windermere and Bowness Civic Society are urging the planning committee to reject the application.

They want the building screened from the lake and have concerns about reflections from windows.

Issues were also raised about the safety of pedestrians travelling between the hotel and centre.

Cumbria Tourism, the body responsible for promoting the county, strongly supports the application.

In a letter to the national park authority, it states: “The proposed building has been carefully designed to represent its lakeshore setting.

“The Windermere Waterfront Scheme seeks to improve the quality of visitor facilities and the visitor infrastructure to meet the increasingly strong competition.”

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