Plans to convert an abandoned Derbyshire quarry into a water park, years in the making, have been submitted.
Developer BMET Limited has submitted plans to turn Crich Quarry into Amber Rock Resort, a sprawling leisure complex designed to attract thousands of tourists to the area.
Its proposals, lodged with Derbyshire County Council, would include a 152-bed hotel, 128 straw lodges, an indoor water park, 210 holiday apartments, an indoor/outdoor climbing center and heritage centre, a summit restaurant of a cliff, sports complex and more, built in the abandoned quarry.
Documents submitted with the application claim that the project will have the “highest sustainable credentials” through brownfield reuse, large-scale tree planting and rainwater harvesting, and incorporation of renewable energies such as water lifts and solar panels.
These documents also indicate that the project will create 561 full-time and part-time jobs when completed, with 200 people to be employed for the construction stages.
The project is expected to take about five years to complete, if approved, but faces opposition from a number of locals, calling themselves Residents Opposed to Amber Rock (ROAR).
They say all villages within a 10 mile radius of Crich are at risk from the proposed development due to a lack of infrastructure and claim that BMET developers have “no financial, industry or capital project experience “to build a giant leisure complex in the old quarry.
ROAR member Tony Mills said: “Crich’s career would benefit from a sympathetic development where nature, wildlife and the environment are at the center of all plans. Building a large project will create exactly the opposite effect.”
County councilors will vote on the plans in the coming months.
A campaign group, called Crich Residents Opposed to Amber Rock, was formed in opposition to the project with over 300 members.
He calls for more friendly development with nature and wildlife at the centre, saying current proposals would “threaten” villages and communities within 10 miles.
Speaking to LDRS last March, a spokesperson for the developers said the water park resort plan was central to the developer’s goals to get the quarry back in service.
If that fails, they say other commercial uses would be explored, but say it would not come back to life as a quarry or mine.
The company bought the site in 2010 and has been working on its resort plans since 2002, with £100,000 already invested in consultants and the current application, the LDRS said.
It details in its planning application that the large multi-storey hotels and apartment buildings would follow the curve of the quarry’s edge and that the complex would be almost entirely obscured from view from the surrounding area.
The apartment blocks vary in height from one storey to five storeys, while the hotel would rise to five storeys. The water park would have two floors.
All of the site’s car parks would be “underground” and accessible through tunnels, the application details, with space for 634 cars, five LCVs, 100 bicycles and 30 motorbikes.
The main approach would approach the site from the south, through the existing entrance to the village of Crich Tramway before turning off to the right, roughly along the existing quarry track.
Promoters want the resort to serve as a base for visitors traveling to the area or having a “stay-cation”. This would involve guests staying at the resort but taking day trips to surrounding areas from the site, such as Bakewell, Chatsworth or Hardwick Hall.
The aim is to provide shuttle services from the site to and from key locations in the region to help with this.
The impact of additional traffic on Crich and surrounding areas is one of the main concerns raised by residents. The developers say this has been taken into account and will be mitigated as much as possible by promoting sustainable travel and organizing visits from the site.
They also say the benefits to the surrounding region would be significant, with visitors shopping and eating locally.
The developer says it has been in frequent contact with County Council, Amber Valley Town Council, the Sherwood Foresters – whose military memorial is in Crich – and the Crich Tramway Village about the project.
A document submitted by the applicants states: “Amber Rock is an exciting and innovative project, and one that is also inherently sustainable.
“The mix of components, hotel, apartments, lodges and facilities, has been designed not only to create an economical and sustainable response to market demands, but also an interesting, exciting and comprehensive destination for visitors.
“The proposed development has sought to take advantage of the location and its situation so close to the Peak District, and through careful planning will not create any significant visual impact on the landscape or setting, as the views on the site from the outside will be largely unchanged. .
“The proposals placed sustainability and good environmental design at the heart of the proposed use of new technologies and creative architecture.
“Amber Rock will accommodate guests wishing for longer stays, taking advantage of the comprehensive facilities available on site.
“Due to the current lack of suitable overnight accommodation, around 50% of visitors to the Peak District are currently only on short day trips, leading to the associated traffic problems.”
The developers told LDRS last year that the derelict site is currently a public health hazard and that returning it to service would improve safety and security, as well as a visual improvement.
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