A watersports centre in a disused quarry has been rejected by a government planning inspector.

Applicant Tim Woodhead from Cheshire Lakes hoped to create the centre in the old Mere Farm Quarry at Chelford, which has two lakes and an area of open grassland.

The plans have been at the heart of a long battle with council planners. There was a blunder at the first planning hearing, then the application went on to be heard four times before being finally rejected.

The applicant refused to give up and appealed the refusal with the government’s planning inspectorate.

But now the appeal has been dismissed by the planning inspector – so the watersports centre, which supporters say would boost the area’s recreational facilities with wakeboarding, paddle sports, canoeing and kayaking, cannot go ahead.

Inspector Elizabeth Pleasant stated the ‘very special circumstances’ needed to build in the green belt had not been met. She also said bird habitats would be disturbed.

She stated: “It is clear to me that even though the proposed buildings and car park would only be on a small portion of the overall site, and would be largely screened from the neighbouring road, the proposed development would still have an urbanising effect on the overall character and appearance of this intrinsically open, tranquil and rural site, particularly when viewed from the public footpath that runs through it.

“I conclude that the appeal proposal would not preserve Green Belt openness and would conflict with the purposes of safeguarding the countryside from encroachment.”

She added: “There would also be an impact on the site’s nature conservation value for birds by reason of disturbance from the proposed recreational activities and an increase in human activity on the site overall.”

Cheshire Lakes expressed its frustration on its Facebook page.

It said: "Bad News - We did not win our appeal.

"Bizarrely the inspector's main reason was due to our plans not being acceptable in the Green Belt. Which is something that even Cheshire East agreed was acceptable in the Statement of Common Ground.

"We would like to thank all the people we have worked with and who have supported this proposal. It has huge public support, we even got approved for planning at one point. Cheshire East planning department and Strategic Planning Board have been nothing short of totally useless the entire time, but we have to now accept the inspector's decision.

"Onwards and upwards, we are off to another site (definitely not in Cheshire East)."

The application went before council planning three times after councillors first refused it, then approved it, then refused it again. Mr Woodhead submitted a revised application with improvements for the bird population but this was rejected.

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