Residents oppose cable car plans

PUBLISHED: 12:00 21 June 2012

Archant

A THIRD of survey respondents are opposed to plans to put cable cars in Cheddar Gorge, according to documents released by the company behind the plans.

The Mercury has reported how Longleat Estates - which owns much of the land in and around the gorge - is considering installing cable cars in an effort to reverse a decline in tourist visitor numbers.

This week the firm has revealed the responses it received from a public consultation exercise, which saw more than 350 views collected.

Although 32 per cent were generally supportive of the plans and 29 per cent were ‘broadly supportive but with some concerns’, 34 per cent of people were opposed, with five per cent undecided.

A total of 47 people said they were completely opposed to any development.

Some suggested that the gorge’s road be closed in summer to avoid traffic problems, while another that electric buggies be used to transport visitors.

Others suggested Cox’s Mill Hotel be used for the planned new visitor or education centre rather than it being built on the top of the gorge, while one person said it should be turned into a soft play area.

Residents were least in favour of the centre being put on top of the gorge, with 43 per cent opposed, 35 per cent in support and 25 per cent supportive but with concerns.

Traffic was a bugbear for many. The company described the general feeling in its report: “Local residents feel that parking has reached saturation point in Cheddar with many very unhappy with indiscriminate parking by visitors to avoid paying.”

The company received almost 100 comments on the visual impact of the cars, with many telling the company that the area should be protected from development as it is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Potential erosion and damage of the gorge, the knock-on effect on wildlife and the pricing of tickets were also raised, with many surveyed stating attractions should be individually priced and that the gorge’s current grouped ticket is too expensive.

Chief executive of Longleat David Bradley said: “We would like to thank all those who took part in the consultation. We were most encouraged by the number of people who took part, and appreciate the many expressions of support from the local community we have received.

“A number of issues and suggestions have been raised which we are looking at in more detail.”

He said the company will respond to issues at the next round of consultation in early autumn, but stressed that concerns over the state of Cox’s Mill have already been addressed after the graffiti-stricken building was repainted.

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