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Plan could create iconic building
Plans to build a world class convention and exhibition centre right on the lakeshore between Windermere and Ambleside are bound to stimulate huge local debate.
English Lakes Hotels, which operates the nearby Low Wood Hotel, wants to create the 600-delegate centre at Low Wood Bay.
The scheme, which would create around 35 jobs, would be located on the site of the existing Watersports Centre.
For many years, the Lake District National Park Authority had a policy restricting development between the A591 and the lake, presumably to protect the view across Windermere.
English Lakes, however, won planning permission on appeal for a conference facility at Low Wood Bay some years ago and is now wanting to press ahead with its plans.
The proposed centre has a new and - it has to be said - striking design, which involves a curved glass feature overlooking the lake. If it goes ahead, it will become a very notable sight for visitors using the A591 to reach the heart of the Lake District and for all those who use the lake itself.
Not all buildings close to Windermere’s shore are aesthetically pleasing - there are one or two grim examples at Bowness - but English Lakes’ design seems, from the artists’ impression, to be interesting, contemporary and fairly pleasing on the eye.
And certainly if a large, new building is going to be granted planning permission in such a high-profile location then its architecture needs to be attractive and likely to confer iconic status.
The ‘green’ elements of the proposed Convention Centre, which would employ a ground source heat pump making use of latent heat at the bottom of the lake and which would be powered by a nearby hydro-electric scheme, are welcome.
And there may be an economic boost if high-ranking business delegates visiting the Lakes from other parts of the country are then encouraged to set up operations in this area.
There are concerns about an increase in congestion on the already busy A591 and these must be taken seriously and addressed.
But, on balance, this looks like an exciting scheme with considerable merit.
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