An ex-zoo boss whose bid to open a horse-riding centre at his farm was thrown out by planners has had his appeal against the decision rejected.

David Rivera wanted permission to launch the venture at Windsor Farm in Wasdale but the Lake District National Park Authority refused him planning permission.

Mr Rivera challenged the decision, but the Planning Inspectorate has now dismissed his appeal.

Planning inspector Richard Clegg found that the proposal was in line with several policies in the national park authority’s development plan and added that it would provide some support for the farm business and income for those running the riding centre.

But in his report, Mr Clegg said: “These positive factors in support of the proposal carry limited weight and do not outweigh the significant harm of an unacceptable reduction in highway safety due to the increased prospect of potentially hazardous manoeuvres on the access road.

“That harm is sufficient to warrant determination of the appeal other than in accordance with the Development Plan policies to which I have been referred.”

Mr Rivera previously ran the former South Lakes Wild Animal Park at Dalton from 1994 to 2017 under the name David Gill.

An application to renew his zoo licence three years ago was rejected after a report from inspectors revealed nearly 500 animals had died on site in four years.

However, Mr Rivera said he had never been charged with or accused of any offences with animals and was “proud” of what he had achieved with the zoo.

He first lodged plans for a riding centre at his farm in March last year, attracting around 90 letters of objection.

The plans were subsequently withdrawn but, after reviewing them, Mr Rivera resubmitted them last summer.

At that time, he said the riding centre would be run by someone else, not by him, and that he was seeking planning permission on their behalf.

The proposed operators would then need to seek a licence to run the business, he said.

Mr Rivera said previously his family could not survive solely on the income from running a fell farm.

He said: “We need to earn money to survive, I have to pay my bills.

“We are doing a number of different things to break away from the desperate scenario of losing money.”

Attempts to contact Mr Rivera about the appeal decision were unsuccessful.