A £4 MILLION conference centre on the shores of Windermere was given overwhelming backing by national park planners today.

Permission was granted for the 600-delegate glass-fronted facility next to the A591, opposite the Low Wood Hotel, despite opposition.

The Lake District National Park Authority’s development control committee voted twelve-to-one to delegate the scheme to the head of development to approve.

It will be the largest complex of its kind in the Lake District.

Simon Berry, managing director of English Lakes Hotels, which is behind the project, said he was ‘delighted’ at the decision.

“It was always going to be a very difficult planning application,” said Mr Berry. “We have an existing building, which is really ugly.

“We celebrate 60 years at the Low Wood this year and we wanted something that is really special for the Lake District.”

Set to create 35 jobs and filling a need for a major conference venue in South Lakeland, the facility will host concerts, exhibitions, dinners and product launches and attract businesses from across the UK.

English Lakes has had permission to build a centre on the site since 2004 but submitted new plans for a contemporary building boasting innovative ‘green’ features such as a ground source heat pump.

Although Lakes Parish Council and local residents objected over concerns about pedestrian safety from increased traffic, Cumbria Highways raised no issues.

The development will include a crossing across the A591 at a location which offers ‘optimum visibility’.

Friends of the Lake District said the project would have an ‘adverse impact on the tranquil character of the lakeshore’ and described the building as too ‘urban’.

Committee member Bill Jefferson said: “A real effort has been made to make this design fit in. I like the look of it. This is an opportunity to do the right thing for the Lake District National Park.”

The Watersports Centre at Low Wood Bay will be demolished and relocated into nearby garages to make way for the development.