Cheddar gorge investment pledged by Longleat chief exec

PUBLISHED: 12:30 23 July 2015

Bob Montgomery.

Bob Montgomery.

Archant

HALF a million pounds is being invested into Cheddar Gorge and its owner, Longleat, wants to work more closely with people in the village.

The money will be used to upgrade the crystal quest in Cox’s Cave, and other gorge facilities.

Longleat chief executive Bob Montgomery has been in his post for 18 months and told the Mercury: “The focus right now is on what we would call our core business. We want to do that better.

“Having said that, this year has been the best year we have had in an awfully long time.

“We need to look at the infrastructure. For example, we don’t have enough parking.”

Mr Montgomery said he recognised there were concerns over the vacant Cox’s Mill Hotel, and said Longleat was looking at what could be done with it.

Cheddar Parish Council is working on a neighbourhood plan, which could influence how the village is developed in the coming years.

Mr Montgomery says Longleat will wait for the result of the plan before making any decisions on any new attractions for the gorge.

He said: “I would say we are on hold to see what makes the most sense for us.

“What we want is to be sure that what we are doing has support.”

One long-standing issue has been a proposed cable car, which received vocal opposition from campaign groups.

Mr Montgomery said: “When I first came in, we were trying to push through a cable car which to me was a significant investment without enough support in the local community.”

A study into the cable car showed it was financially viable.

But Mr Montgomery said it was not necessarily viable to the extent it would offset some of the hurdles the scheme has faced.

He added: “We would not be spending the money we are if we were not committed to the gorge.”

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