Cumbria Zoo to double in size after plans approved

An animal park in Cumbria will more than double in size after a government inspector gave it permission to expand.

Plans were first submitted in 2009 by David Gill, owner of the South Lakes Wild Animal Park.

Although Barrow Borough Council's planning officers recommended approval, councillors on the planning committee said they were minded to refuse.

An appeal was launched in 2011 to the government's Planning Inspectorate.

The inspector was called in after Mr Gill lost patience with the speed of Barrow Borough Council's decision-making.

Mr Gill expects work to start on the £4m expansion as "soon as physically, legally possible."

'Exciting time'

Development work will include improved parking, a new entrance off the A590, and an increase to the number of animal enclosures.

Mr Gill said: "We have got a great chance now to develop and open up a new area and bring in new animals.

"It is an exciting time for all of the staff and my family really, because we have got this fantastic opportunity now to create a truly flagship attraction."

The animal park has more than 300,000 visitors a year.

The planning inspector has ruled that before work commences the zoo owners have to get Barrow Borough Council and the Secretary of State for Transport to approve the plans for the new A590 entrance.

The BBC approached Barrow Borough Council on Tuesday, but it has so far been unavailable for comment.

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