Future hotel, restaurants and conference centre at Doncaster's Yorkshire Wildlife Park can sell alcohol and hold events

Doncaster’s Yorkshire Wildlife Park will be allowed to sell alcohol in a future hotel and restaurants and hold events until the early hours, a committee has ruled.

By George Torr
Thursday, 9th July 2020, 8:50 am
Updated Thursday, 9th July 2020, 8:50 am

In a virtual meeting lasting over seven hours, Doncaster Council’s licensing committee approved plans for a new premises licence in the new expansion area.

The park already has planning permission for a hotel, new restaurants and a conference centre. A separate licensing application is needed for the sale of alcohol and the times in which events can be held.

Residents who spoke at the meeting raising objections to the plan, said the consultation was ‘not adequate’.

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But YWP’s barrister Sarah Clover, from Kings Chambers in London, said the park had gone ‘above and beyond’ and carried out a ‘gold standard’ service in letting people in the surrounding areas know about the application.

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A number of objections have been made by residents close to the park but they have not been made public by the council.

A large number of people spoke against the proposals largely citing that noise was already an issue and could be heard in people’s gardens in surrounding villages. Residents said the plans would exacerbate the problem.

One resident said the licensing application could pave the way for a ‘mini Glastonbury’ and the park was turning ‘more into an entertainment centre’ than a zoo.

Other objectors raised issues around an increase in traffic onto the site, especially from the new entrance off Hurst Lane. But representations from the park said traffic ‘did not fall under’ nuisance on the four licensing objectives.

The Yorkshire Wildlife Park currently holds three premises licences. One, granted in 2009, which covers the restaurant and courtyard only, a second licence granted in 2015 covers the whole site including the Crafty Badger retail store and a third granted in 2016 which covers the large event area.

Plans also show the indoor conference centre will be also used for sporting events and listed snooker, darts, martial arts and gymnastics as examples.

The proposed licence will mean there is no regulated entertainment that will take place in outside areas after 10.30pm.

Sales of alcohol inside restaurants and the conference centre will finish at 2am. Hotel guests will be able to get food and drink from any time of the day or night.

The application also sets out live music which will be finished by 10.30pm outside and midnight inside the conference centre.

It's understood bosses were awaiting the outcome of the licensing hearing before any development plans are laid out for any potential construction.

The park announced the expansion plan back in 2017 which was said to bring in around £50 million worth of investment and over 300 extra jobs.

Bosses secured 150 acres of land adjacent to the current site and is developing the plans which they say has the potential to make it ‘one of the leading destinations in the UK’.

Sarah Clover, a barrister on behalf of Yorkshire Wildlife Park, said: “It’s understandable that residents will have fears and concerns about something that hasn’t happened yet but we do need to put it in the context that this is a licensee that has been in situ for over 10 years.

“This is not a jolly-come-lately enterprise that is completely untested.

“For the number of events in the last few years, relative to the number of complaints that have been made then that is a very good acid test and these activities would not bring big trouble. Somebody said there is a major noise nuisance, there isn’t on site as things stand.”

Finningley councillor Steve Cox, who also objected to the plans, said: “My main objection is the traffic from Hurst Lane.

“All we requested was that a new independent traffic survey was conducted to put a lot of issues aside.

“I’ve got more to say but I’m at a loss because we sent this information out to try and make a decision on something and now we’re being told over and over again that it doesn’t make a difference.

“The residents have not been listened to for years and lots of different groups that have proved points of safety on Hurst Lane but none of it has been taken into account.

“As for the sound, it’s been said over and over again that there should be no audible noise from the boundary but it doesn’t make a difference. There is an ambient measurement, now we’re told there isn’t.”

Councillors approved the application but the licence would come under yearly review.