Hollybush Lakes Aqua Sports Leisure Park

Local Authority



Applications, Advice and Appraisals
  • Leisure and Tourism
Decoration Decoration

The scheme will provide 12% biodiversity net gain for the former mineral extraction site and car breakers yard

Client Drayparcs Developments
Architect Baca Architects
Author Geoff Megarity
Principal Planner

Project Overview

Bell Cornwell assisted Baca Architects in securing a resolution to grant full planning permission, subject to a legal agreement, for an ambitious aqua sports leisure park, hospitality venue and visitor attraction in the Blackwater Valley near Farnborough, UK.

The proposals include:

  • An aquatic sports centre offering water-based activities such as kayaking, boating and a seasonal inflatable assault course alongside gym facilities and an elevated cafe.
  • An equestrian centre, offering stabling, grazing and schooling facilities alongside overnight guest accommodation for a local riding school.
  • Floating holiday accommodation within the site offers immersive lakeside holiday accommodation and fishing experiences for visiting guests and introduces ‘eco-tourism’ to the local area.

The site is currently closed to the public. The 16 hectares site, of which 9 hectares are water, is in flood zones 2 and 3 and was a former mineral extraction site and car breakers yard.  Proposals have been developed in close consultation with both Rushmoor Borough and Hampshire County Council Heads of Economy and Strategic Regeneration, and the Planning Team.

Bell Cornwell assisted in developing the planning strategy, preparing the planning statement and preparing a flooding sequential test covering an area of 578 square miles, four counties and eleven local planning authorities – larger than the equivalent land area of the Faroe Islands.

Despite a challenging set of constraints, the scheme went through unanimously at Committee.

One of the key benefits that sold the scheme to the Council was that the proposals will promote healthy lifestyles and encourage physical activity, with indoor sports and recreational facilities.

The proposals offer the opportunity for the existing lakes and surrounding habitats to be brought into favourable conservation management in the long term. The proposals will deliver biodiversity net gains of 12.45% and 277% for habitats and linear features respectively.

New diverse wetland margins and reedbeds will be introduced at 3 locations within the lakes, and the whole of the smaller central lake will be restored to create a pond and wetland area.

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