Planning Agents Statement

Redevelopment of the Wycombe Summit Ski Centre by Snowdome Group Limited

Planning Summary

History

The original outdoor dry ski centre was granted permission and developed in 1993 together with ancillary facilities. In 2000 the Council granted planning permission for the development of a Health & Fitness Centre adjacent to the dry ski facility on what is currently the car park area. This permission was never implemented.

The ski centre closed in 2003 due to financial difficulties and the business was acquired and re-opened by the Snowdome Group Limited. Due to a fire at the club house in 2005 the dry ski slope has been closed for health and safety reasons.

Current Position

Snowdome Group Limited have been seeking to promote the redevelopment of the site and are putting together a planning application for the redevelopment of the existing training and nursery dry ski slopes to provide a real snow facility. A new club house will also be built together with an ice rink. The existing car parking facilities will be upgraded.

The proposed redevelopment has been encouraged and designed using the Health and Fitness permission of 2000 as a precedent for leisure development at this location. This indicated that the Council considered redevelopment to provide commercial leisure facilities to be acceptable at this location.

Environment

Snowdome submitted an application to the Council for a screening opinion under the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations. On 29 August the Council gave the opinion that no environmental assessment was required for the proposal.

The Planning Application

The planning application for the development will be a full planning application including all necessary documentation such as a Transport Assessment; a Planning Policy Statement; a Landscape/Woodland Management Plan; a Travel Plan; a Design and Access Statement; a Flood Risk Assessment; a Lighting Report; and a Visual/Landscape Impact Assessment

The development has been carefully designed to comply with the Council's Local Plan policies and will be subject to consultation before its final submission.

Snowdome is currently undertaking consultation exercises to comply with the Council's Statement of Community Involvement. Snowdome is eager to engage with the public of Wycombe and the locality to ensure its support and to react to any positive or negative feedback in the presentation of the application.

The Site and its Landscape Setting

The redevelopment has been carefully designed by architects to ensure minimal impact on the landscape. The applicant will seek to demonstrate that there will be no more impact than that sanctioned in the previous operation and the Health and Fitness development. There will be no adverse impact on the character or appearance of the site and locality despite its hillside location.

A Visual Impact Assessment will be submitted with the application which will demonstrate that views of the development will be minimal. The development will incorporate sedum roofs which will help it to blend into the existing woodland.

The Assessment will also demonstrate a reduction in night time light pollution as a result of the re-development. A full lighting assessment of the site will be submitted.

Deangarden Wood provides an important screen for the development in respect of its visual impact. Snowdome's landscape strategy and Woodland Management Plan will seek to conserve and supplement the woodland for the future.

Highways

The application will include a fully negotiated and agreed Transport Assessment with the County Council. It will incorporate a Travel Plan including the provision of a new bus route and shuttle bus service from the town centre. Snowdome will also consider funding highway works if deemed necessary as part of any negotiations with the County Council.

The car parking on site has been modelled on that permitted by the Health and Fitness permission. Sufficient car parking spaces have been incorporated to cater for peak periods in light of the fact that the indoor ski operation and ice rink are subject to a booking system which has an inbuilt mechanism, restricting the number of people visiting the site at any one time.

In terms of its rural location Snowdome will address issues of sustainability and in conducting and implementing mitigation measures will demonstrate that no material increase in local congestion will result from the redevelopment.

Ecology

Snowdome has already submitted an Ecological/Woodland Management Plan to the Council. It is Snowdome's intention to ensure that any important areas of ecology identified in that plan are preserved and enhanced on the site and within Deangarden Wood.

Other Policy Areas

Development in the Countryside.
The site is outside the green belt and the settlement boundary of Wycombe.

However, the development of an indoor ski/real snow facility together with an ice rink is inextricably linked to the existing dry ski slope at the site. Snowdome will demonstrate that there is no other suitable site within the Wycombe area. The Health and Fitness permission is a precedent for such development.

Commercial Leisure:
Snowdome will demonstrate minimal impact on leisure facilities in Wycombe town centre and show that the viability and vitality of other leisure facilities in Wycombe will not be affected. Snowdome will demonstrate that there is no other suitable site for this facility within Wycombe and the clear business case for the linking of the “snow facility” and the ice rink.

It is important to note that the Wycombe Local Plan clearly indicates that there is a shortage of commercial leisure activities in the district and seeks to concentrate such commercial leisure facilities in the town centre. However, as indicated above there are special circumstances relating to the Wycombe Snowdome site which demonstrates that there is no other suitable location.

Section 106 Planning Obligations

As part of the application process the Snowdome will negotiate a Section 106 Agreement with the Council. This will incorporate measures to deal with woodland management, a travel plan, potential highway contributions and an increase in public access to Deangarden Wood.

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