Hoteliers lash 'unfair' competition as Brockhole masterplan is unveiled (From The Westmorland Gazette)
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Hoteliers lash 'unfair' competition as Brockhole masterplan is unveiled
LAKES hoteliers have slammed national park plans which they claim would put Brockhole Visitor Centre in direct and ‘unfair’ competition with them.
They have joined a chorus of disapproval over a Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) ‘master plan’ for the centre.
The objectors fear the proposals add up to over-commercialisation of the publicly-owned house and gardens – once the home of Beatrix Potter’s cousins, the Gaddum family, and now the park authority’s main visitor centre in the Lake District.
* an indoor venue for weddings and other functions for up to 500;
* an ‘outdoor event’ space for up to 5,000;
* a watersports centre complete with a new lake and building for staff and equipment;
* a hostel for visitors; and
* a lakeside education classroom.
Jonathan Denby, president of the Lakes Hospitality Association, said: “These venues would put a subsidised Brockhole in direct competition with commercial organisations. It is a completely inap-propriate use of public money.
“The wedding venue in particular would have an unfair advantage over local hotels which have to make a profit to survive.”
Mr Denby, who runs South Lakes Hotels, said it was not the job of the LDNPA to run commercial activities in competition with local businesses and called for the authority to consider selling off Brockhole.
“It is being subsidised to the tune of £300,000 a year and more public money is being pumped in to pay for the redevelopment. It puts the centre at an unfair advantage.”
Thomas Noblett, who runs the Langdale Chase Hotel, claimed a wedding venue at Brockhole would end up ‘looting the business’ from other hotels.
“We have enough competition on the shore of Windermere already without adding another, especially created by public subsidy,” he said.
The hoteliers’ concerns echoed those of nearby residents who attended a LDNPA meeting to voice their concerns over the plan this week.
Ken Clarke, of Ecclerigg, told authority members he and his neighbours objected to a number of the proposals, especially the wedding venue, water-sports centre and hostel.
“The contentious proposals, if implemented, will be noisy, disturbing and have the potential to create increased trespass incidents,” said Mr Clarke.
Authority chairman William Jefferson said authority officials would meet residents to discuss their concerns.
This week's meeting was also addressed by campaigners fighting plans to fell a 110-year-old historic monkey puzzle tree and a number of memorial trees at Brockhole.
Wildlife artist Marianne Birkby described the felling plans as ‘an act of vandalism’ while horticultural expert Ben Andrews described the monkey puzzle as ‘a much-loved specimen’ and ‘probably the largest tree of its kind in Cumbria’.
Mr Jefferson said: “We are fully aware of the sensitivies surrounding these issues. Regeneration invariably attracts some controversy and there can rarely be unanimity. The important thing is to move forward with care and purpose in an open and transparent manner”
A spokesman for LDNPA said the future of the master plan would be decided at next month’s park authority meeting.