A NEW 'Enchanted Village' at Alton Towers is been given the go-ahead – and is expected to create up to 130 jobs.
District planners have given Alton Towers Resort approval to expand its holiday accommodation with the construction of 61 double lodges, containing 122 units, and 10 tree houses with associated restaurant and service buildings, a play area, hard and soft landscaping, parking and drainage work.
Members of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council's planning applications committee voted unanimously in favour of approval when the plan was put before them last week.
Alton Towers said the planned additional accommodation could result in 32 full-time and 98 part-time positions.
Speaking to the committee Mark Kerrigan, development director at Alton Towers Resort, said: "This is important to Alton Towers Resort, which plays an important role supporting local companies and suppliers.
"The resort attracts lots of people, which again supports local businesses.
"The accommodation will increase overnight stays.
"People who stay at the resort spend four times more than a day visitor.
"The additional accommodation is also important to the resort's business plan."
The applicant's agent, Hannah Whitney, said: "The tree houses have been carefully designed with a minimal loss of trees.
"There will be 4,000 additional trees planted at the site."
Alton Towers employs around 2,000 people during its peak summer season, and attracts 20,000 visitors a day during its busiest period. In all, around three million people visit the theme park each year.
Councillor Mike Worthington said: "People will stay longer, which will help traffic flows. It will also produce more employment for the Staffordshire Moorlands and is great for young children."
Councillor Ron Locker said: "There will be 4,000 tree planted and it is a tremendous growth for tourism as I feel we do not do enough to promote the area."
Councillor Julie Bull said: "This will not have a detrimental effect on bed and breakfast properties in the area."
Councillor Linda Malyon said: "This is the flagship for the UK. It will benefit the economy and help businesses as people will also be staying in the Staffordshire Moorlands longer.
A report to councillors by planning officer Jane Curley said: "The development has been themed to reflect children's fairy tales. The development will be car free with the exception of the drop-off area and disabled parking
"Between the tree houses and lodges several landscape mounds are proposed to create what the applicant states as an isolated woodland effect for guests."
Speaking after permission was granted Mr Kerrigan said: "We are delighted to have been given the go-ahead on the Alton Towers Enchanted Village.
"The new accommodation will further enhance our position as a short break destination and also provide significant opportunities for the local area. We have worked incredibly hard in recent years to grow tourism in Staffordshire and are extremely excited about bringing this new concept to life over the coming months."
Opening in Spring 2015, The Enchanted Village will be completely themed around a fairytale hideaway and located in woodland next to the Alton Towers Hotel.