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400,000+ READERS leisure opportunities 10 JUN – 23 JUN 2014 ISSUE 634 Daily news & jobs: www.leisureopportunities.co.uk Center Parcs CEO: UK planning process ‘ridiculous’


As Center Parcs launches its new £250m Woburn Forest holiday resort last week, CEO Martin Dalby called for the UK gov- ernment to take the development of major leisure investments more seriously. Talking exclusively to Lei sure


Opportunities, Dalby urged a planning pro- cess rethink for major developments, and revealed that Center Parcs is now looking towards Ireland for its next project. He said: “When big investments like


this come along, there should be a way of bypassing the local authority to get it built – there needs to be someone in govern- ment responsible for these big projects.” According to Dalby, Center Parcs spent


£5m just getting the Woburn site through planning and – more importantly – the pro- cess took five years, thereby depriving the area of valuable employment opportunities at the height of the recession. “When we announced the project in 2004, we said we’d open in 2008. We would have achieved that deadline, and then the area could have had the benefit of all those jobs right throughout the recession,” he said.


Warner Bros considers Harry Potter spin-off


Leisure Opportunities understands Warner Bros is exploring the possi- bility of creating attractions based on JK Rowling’s book Fantastical Beasts and Where to Find Tem. The media giant has already


acquired film rights to the story, which was written by the Harry Potter author in 2001 and is linked to the books. Locations are not yet known,


however, the company has already announced it will be expanding its award-winning Studio Tour at Leavesden, making it one possible loca- tion. Details: http://lei.sr?a=W4b2m


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forest and perfect for Center Parcs and that’s where our determination came from, because even our barristers advised us that it would be a tough battle for planning.” The Blackstone Group-owned resort


operator launched the new £250m com- plex on 6 June. It features 625 lodges, a 75-bedroom hotel, Center Parcs’ largest Subtropical Swimming Paradise and an Aqua Sana spa, plus the typical indoor and outdoor activities the resort is known for. “What was fantastic about this scheme


Martin Dalby says red tape nearly scuppered Woburn Forest “When we submitted the application, the


council spent a year just looking at it – It was ridiculous. We had to go through that local planning process with local people who didn’t really understand what we were doing. Tere’s got to be a faster way than it taking five years. “Tis was such a great site that we believed in our project and persevered - it’s an amazing


Gym membership surges past 8 million


Te UK health and fitness industry has more clubs, more members and greater market value than ever, with the majority of growth driven by low cost operators, according to the 2014 State of the UK Fitness Industry (SOFI) report. For the first time ever, health club mem-


ber numbers have moved past eight million, market value has exceeded £4bn and the pen- etration rate is at an all-time high of 13.2 per cent. Te penetration rate signifies the percent- age of the UK population that are members of a health club and reflects a welcome improve- ment on last year’s figure of 12.6 per cent. Te 2014 report highlights that the industry has experienced another year of growth over the


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John Treharne’s low cost Te Gym Group is making gains


12-month period to the end of March 2014, with increases across all three KPIs – 3.9 per cent in value, 1.5 per cent in the number of fitness facilities and a 4.5 per cent rise in members. Details: http://lei.sr?a=U4t2a


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is that the secretary of state overrode her own inspector to get it through, because she recognised the positive impact it would have on jobs and tourism. This Center Parcs development will put £20m into the


local economy each year in wages, salaries and expenditure through local businesses – she rec- ognised that and those things outweighed the negatives of building in the green belt.” Dalby said that this fiſth and final Center


Parcs site completes the portfolio in England, with a development in Ireland the most likely next step. Details: http://lei.sr?a=b4g5R


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