Plans approved for activity site

PLANS to convert the former Earth Centre into a residential outdoor education facility are a step closer after councillors granted planning permission.

But the development is still not a completed deal as the sale of the land has not yet formally gone through.

Members of the borough’s planning committee unanimously approved the scheme after the preferred bidder for the site, Kingswood, told them the scheme would create around 200 jobs at what will be called the Kingswood Dearne Valley Centre.

Their agent David Clough told councillors the scheme would mean an increase in spending which would boost the economy and attract visitors to the borough.

He added: “The main contractor has agreed to take 75 per cent of the labour from the DN postcode area.

“It will continue the principles of environmentally sustainable living which the Earth Centre was based on.”

Council officials say the granting of planning permission is a major milestone on the road to completing the sale, which is expected to take place in mid to late August.

Mayor of Doncaster Peter Davies said: “I am delighted to see Kingswood’s proposals passing this vital planning phase.

“A real strength of the plans is they represent a natural continuation of the site’s heritage as a centre for learning focused on environmental sustainability.

“Most importantly, Kingswood is an established company which already operates eight outdoor activity centres in the UK and one in France.

“They will run this new site as a wholly private enterprise.”

Planning committee chairman Coun Chris McGuinness said: “Although the site is located within green belt, the committee considered the development is acceptable in terms of its impact upon the area, ecology, highways, flood risk and sustainability. Kingswood’s plans will bring this major site back into educational use which will benefit Doncaster.”