Prinknash Bird and Deer Park extension gets planning go-ahead
GRAND £400,000 plans to extend Prinknash Bird and Deer Park have been approved and will create a new visitor centre and gift shop.
An animal welfare building will also be built after planning officers at Stroud District Council granted the tourist attraction planning permission.
Melanie Meigh, who inherited the park at Cranham, from her father Philip Meigh, in 2008, said: "Everyone at the park, the whole team, is absolutely thrilled with this outcome.
"It means so much to us here and we can really kick on and progress now."
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However, the monks of nearby Prinknash Abbey are unhappy with the plans and said they fear it will become a "theme park".
The application was approved by delgated powers, meaning Stroud District Council officers made the decision, rather than going before the planning committee.
Father Martin McLaughlin, bursar at the abbey, had called for the decision to be debated by the committee because the abbey is a Grade I-listed building and the 300-acre estate first came under Catholic church ownership more than 900 years ago.
He said: "We have no objections to the park being a bird park, but not a theme park.
"We would have liked to have seen it go to the planning committee as we do have some concerns about it.
"It could now go on and develop into something even larger on a site that has a great deal of religious significance.
"I can't say at this stage whether or not we will be taking our objections any further."
The monks have no right of appeal against the planning decision, other than to apply for judicial review of the decision in the High Court.
However, Melanie said the plans for the revamped buildings will add value for current visitors.
"At the moment when it rains people don't really have anywhere to go, but now they will have somewhere where they can drop in to. We will be holding lectures on various things, and hosting exhibitions too. It's all really exciting."