Chessington World of Adventures Resort have submitted a request for a formal Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) screening opinion for the construction of 45 lodges, bar and lounge building, reception building and play areas.
Proposed to be located to the north of the current Wanyama Reserve and Zufari ride area, and to the west of the existing hotels, the development will feature 45 safari themed lodges designed to cater for short stays of one to two nights. 34 of the proposed lodges will be classed as ‘standard’ lodges and will be situated to the north west of the site and face inwards towards a central green area. The remaining 11 lodges will be located directly south of the standard lodges and will be classed as the ‘premium’ option and offer views across the reserve. When at full capacity, the accommodation will be able to cater for 237 guests.
Alongside the lodges a dedicated bar and lounge area, known as the ‘Watering Hole’, will also be constructed. Located amongst the premium lodges at the centre of the site the facility will be for the exclusive use of lodge guests having the capacity to accommodate 80 people and will also include a small kitchen suggesting that the bar and lounge will also be able to offer some form of food. The bar will connect to an exterior terrace which will face towards the Wanyama Reserve and also incorporate a 3 metre high giraffe feeding platform. A new pond feature will also be added to the area which will also be designed to act as a watering hole for the animals encouraging them to come closer to the new area offering guests unique opportunities to view the residents of the reserve. To the western side of the bar the terrace will be slightly raised and offer a view over an outdoor children’s play area.
Over to the eastern side of the proposed new area, and next to the existing hotel service yard, a permanent reception building will be constructed providing a welcome area for guests, reception desk, luggage store rooms, and a lounge waiting area as well as toilets and back-of-house facilities. In the area outside the building 4 dedicated disabled parking bays will be created with buggies available to transfer disabled guests to their accommodation. Outside the entrance to the reception building will be an eight metre high African-themed replica hot air balloon. However, there will be no additional parking created for the development, instead 60 spaces will set aside in the current Lodge Car Park for guests to use.
These latest proposals from Chessington World of Adventures Resort form part of a wider strategy to add extra accommodation across the Merlin theme park resort portfolio. Although the documents submitted do not indicate a timescale for the construction of the lodges, it is thought that the development will be complete by 2020 at the latest. The plans also follow on from a consultation earlier this year surrounding the Resort’s new Long Term Development Plan which outlined the lodge development alongside the addition of a new family rollercoaster and a number of smaller attractions. Although the current screening opinion request does not constitute a formal planning application it is anticipated that an application will be submitted early in the new year.
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