A new planning application has been submitted for proposed for Bewl Water reservoir in Kent, as the private owner wants to create holiday lets within the stunning 800-acre parkland and woods.
Southern Water’s resevior, which is the largest stretch of open water in the South East is visited by around 150,000 people a year, for walking, cycling, fly-fishing, events and an aqua park.
The original application was submitted in August last year but it sparked a number of objections about light pollution. This week amended plans to build tourist accommodation, a cafe with a terrace and an extension to the restaurant were submitted to Wealden District Council and Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, as the site is in both Kent and Sussex.
Changes made to the original design of the building seek to “overcome a large number of concerns” about light pollution on the reservoir and woodland, said planning consultants for the applicant Bewl Events and Water Park Ltd based at Markerstudy House in Sevenoaks. They include removal of some glass panes, dormers and balconies; using non-reflective glass in all windows; and the addition of sensors to external balcony lighting.
The scheme would see alterations and extensions to the The Boat House Bistro and a fishing facility building
Planning consultant Kember Loudon Williams said “The cumulative result of the above changes is to reduce the level of light spill from the building onto the reservoir to the south and the woodland to the north. In turn, the reduction in light spill will serve to reduce any potential impacts that the development will have upon the various bird species that reside upon the reservoir and the bats that are active within the woodland.”
The High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership objected in July last year to the original plan. It said “The facilities were built with public money to support informal outdoor recreation and enjoyment of nature by people in beautiful surroundings; a purpose which aligns with the intent of AONB designation. At a time when the covid pandemic has highlighted the need for access to green spaces for all and the Government’s response to the Glover Review of designated landscapes involves improving facilities for wider access, especially for young people, the permanent removal of capacity to support such access is detrimental to the AONB purpose.
“Bewl Water is a naturally dark sky area with only a handful of lakeside properties of which this is one of the most prominent. The current design would substantially increase lighting and noise particularly at night which would have a harmful impact on dark night skies and night time quietude. For these reasons the AONB Unit objects to the application.”