Under attack - Plans for Wolds Wildlife Park face threat from housebuilders

Syas the tiger lives at Wolds Wildlife Park. Picture: John Aron.
Syas the tiger lives at Wolds Wildlife Park. Picture: John Aron.

A Horncastle business owner has offered to buy a development site from a firm of housebuilders in a bid to safeguard the future of his collection of wild animals.

Andrew Riddel has spent months putting together his collection of more than 200 animals - including lions and a tiger - on land adjacent to his home in Hemingby Lane, Horncastle.

Hundreds of people are expected to attend an open weekend this Saturday and Sunday at Mr Riddel’s Wolds Wildlife Park

Mr Riddel is still waiting for planning permission from East Lindsey District Council.

Enclosures for some of the anmials border land owned by Larkfleet/Allison Homes who have full permission for 80 new homes.

It has emerged Larkfleet/Allison have written a letter to ELDC calling on planners to refuse permission for the wildlife park.

When contacted by the News, Mr Riddel said: “Tell them (Larkfleet/Allison) that I’ll buy the site off them for £90,000 which is what they paid for it. End of story.”

In reply, a spokesman for Larkfleet/Allison said: “We have submitted an objection to the planning application for enclosures for lions, wolves and tigers on the site adjacent to where we plan to build houses because we are worried about the impact on residents of the noise and smell from these animals.

“The enclosures would be less than 50 metres from the nearest homes.

“We note that a tiger is already ‘in residence’ in a purpose-built enclosure despite no planning consent having been granted for this.

“This is a matter of concern and we have urged the council to take appropriate action.

“I understand that Mr Riddel has indicated that he is willing to purchase the site on which we have planning consent to build around 80 homes.

“However, we have had no contact with Mr Riddel and no offer has been received.

“We are pressing on with our plans to build new homes for local people in an area of housing need, and aim to start work on site as soon as possible.”

It is not clear when ELDC will make a decision on the application.

Amended plans for the wildlife park were submitted to ELDC last week, including provision for a quaratine area.

ELDC has previously indicated it was waiting for reports from organisations with specialist knowledge of wildlife parks.

Horncastle Town Council says it has ‘insufficient knowledge or expertise’ to comment on the design or suitability of the buildings/housing for the animals.

They add that if the application is approved, landscaping and adequate on-site security should be priorities.

Meanwhile, Mr Riddel said he was hoping to go ahead with the ticket-only open weekend, despite what he termed a ‘permit issue.’

In a statement on Facebook, the wildlife park said: “Just a polite reminder to all those buying tickets.

“Please don’t think you are coming to a finished wildlife park!

“This is our private collection of wild animals that are a part of our family.

“We are trying our best to get finished what we can, but you must understand this is an ongoing project and we would like to give you the opportunity to join us on our journey.

“We hope to provide you with a fun weekend for all the family however young or old. Thanks for the continued support.”