Horncastle’s mayor has delivered a massive ‘thumbs up’ to the new Wolds Wildlife Park and believes it will be a major asset for the town and the entire district.
Fiona Martin, a town and district councillor, says the park will create new jobs and attract more visitors, boosting income from tourism in Horncastle and East Lindsey.
She is also hoping people will also visit town centre shops, pubs and restaurants, delivering a shot in the arm to the town’s economy.
Coun Martin said: “Speaking from a personal point of view, I think the Wildlife Park has to be a good thing for Horncastle – and for the whole district.
“Anything that brings in new jobs – and more people to the town – has to be welcomed.”
Hundreds of people attended successful open days on Saturday and Sunday and the park’s owners Andrew Riddel and Tracy Walters were overwhelmed by the positive reaction of visitors who viewed an amazing collection of animals.
The open days came just 48 hours after planners at East Lindsey District Council finally gave full permission for the 30-acre plus site.
Coun Martin added: “I have visited the park and I must say it is very impressive.
“They (the owners) have done an excellent job.
“I know it (getting permission) hasn’t been a straightforward process but then it is not every day the planners have to deal with an application of this nature.
“They (the owners) have obviously put in a lot of time and money.
“Most of the animals have been re-homed and you don’t know what would have happened to them otherwise.
“From everything I saw, the animals are well looked after and the enclosures are very impressive.”
Coun Martin went on to welcome the fact conservation and education will play a big part in the park’s future.
Planning permission includes an education centre and she is hoping schools throughout Lincolnshire will take up the opportunity to visit.
She said: “A lot of the work has already been done but I know there’s still lots to do.
“They still have to get all the various permissions and licenses.
“But once they are in place, I look forward to the park opening.”
Coun Martin said she was aware some people – and animals rights organisations – have expressed concerns but she stressed that overall, the feedback for the park had been very positive.
Mr Riddel – who runs a successful town-based scrap metal and skip hire business – said he and Ms Walters wanted to thank everyone who supported the park at the open days.
The couple added: “It was fantastic to see so many people and the messages of support we received on the day – and since Sunday – has been amazing. Thanks to everyone. Your support means everything.”
The couple have put plans for more open days this month on hold, apparently because of issues securing the all-important permissions from the relevant authorities.
While planning permission is in place, the park still has to satisfy more than a dozen conditions, including improved access, landscaping, drainage and measures for visitors to cross Hemingby Lane safely.