Ambitious Flintshire Roman Fort and Country Park project looks set to get the go-ahead from planners
Flintshire planners are expected to give the green light on ambitious plans to transform a disused former quarry site near Hope into a fully functioning Roman Fort and Iron Age farmstead.
The project called ‘Park in the Past’ is looking to utilise Fagl Lane aggregates quarry, near Hope which closed in 2004 after 40 years of operation.
The quarry was purchased in 2015 by the “Park in the Past’ community interest group who believe their plans have the potential to turn it into a significant tourist destination in North Wales, attracting educational and academic visitors and tourists into Flintshire.
The team behind ‘Park in the Past’ won £20,000 from the Big Lottery Fund and have been backed by the Welsh Government.
The project is the lifelong dream of Caergwrle based Paul Harston director of ‘Park in the Past’ and owner of Chester based Roman Tours.
Paul’s company currently supplies educational services to around 30,000 students studying Roman history in Chester each year.
Plans go before Flintshire County Council planning committee this Wednesday.
The application to be considered is seeking permission for the change of use of the former quarry with the creation of wildlife conservation areas, the erection of a visitor centre, the formation of car and coach parking areas, the creation of a replica Iron Age meeting hall.
The hall will be used for performance, group activities and display purposes, plans also include the creation of a replica Iron Age farmstead and village as well as the main attraction, the replica Roman Fort.
The proposed wildlife conservation area will ‘conserve and enhance’ existing habitats as well as create new habitats similar to those found in the first century, the application says.
Central to the plans is the construction of a new visitor centre complex which will be located close to the main site entrance and parking area.
The visitor centre will provide commercial and leisure activities, educational visits and courses and will have cafe/restaurant.
The site also boasts a 30-metre deep lake fed by natural springs, this will play host to sailing, windsurfing, diving and canoeing, all of which will be carefully managed the proposal document states.
The lake will be used for fishing via a number of set fishing stages, Natural Resources Wales has agreed to provide financial support to set up a community fishery on the site.
A new boathouse building and separate storage facilities will be built close to the lake shore.
Proposals also include an ‘Earth House’ a timber frame structure covered a with a turf roof, approximately 25m in diameter.
The Roman Fort will be the principal visitor attraction within the country park, the design is based on a Fort which would have been constructed in the area at the time of Roman occupation.
The Fort will include barracks, workshops, granary (food store) and infirmary together with towers, gates and outer walls.
If approved the Iron Age farmstead will comprise of a small number of reproduction iron age ‘round houses’ together with enclosures for grazing rare breed animals.
A total of twenty-eight letters were received during the planning application phase in support of ‘Park in the Past’ they include North Wales Police Crime Architectural Liaison Service.
Supporters cite the “educational, health and wellbeing, environmental and economic benefits, especially to the local tourist economy as reasons to support the scheme.”
Hope Councillor Tim Newhouse has also given the development his full backing and has recommended to members of the Planning Committee to support the proposal.
Five people raised objections due to adverse impacts upon users of public footpaths, increased traffic and highway safety and an inadequate existing road network.
Flintshire County Council planning officers have recommended that permission should be granted.
PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT CONTROL COMMITTEE 14TH DECEMBER 2016 Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com