Brockholes bids to stay afloat with changes to operating conditions

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An AWARD winning Lancashire visitor attraction says it wants to change its operating conditions to help avoid possible financial failure.

But a planning application for Brockholes Nature Reserve at Samlesbury to permit Visitor Centre opening hours round the clock and allow amplified music to be played there from 9am to 1am daily, has caused consternation for some of its near neighbours.

The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside says its £12m development, which opened in 2011, was funded from public money on condition“it generated enough income to operate in perpetuity.”

It is now seeking to remove “unnecessarily restrictive” operating conditions saying it gets significant income from weddings and other celebrations and restrictions are: “limiting our agreed business plan and our means to support and sustain the extensive nature reserve.”

The Trust says it has not yet progressed to a break even position and warns: “Any impact on the business model would significantly increase risk, in terms of the Trust not being able to maintain and operate this major visitor attraction in Lancashire.”

But nearby residents Rachel and Michael Cookson of Potters Lane have accused the Trust of introducing its actual intentions for the greenbelt site “by stealth” and have written to Lancashire County Council to object to what they say is a “completely non-related business venture”, saying: “It is inconceivable that weddings or birthday celebrations could ever be considered educational or recreational activities linked to the use of the site as a wildlife reserve.”

They say the changes would increase light pollution affecting wildlife and noise pollution affecting wildlife and local residents detrimentally.

At present the site can open from 6am to midnight and amplified music can be played in buildings until 11pm. Samlesbury and Cuerdale Parish Council has added its voice to protests saying that a bird sanctuary and loud music are “oxymoronic” - contradictory.

But South Ribble Council said it has no objections because there are no nearby neighbours to be unduly affected. Comments can be made until April 30. See