Villagers are gearing up to fight plans for a major tourism development that they say would be like having Center Parcs on their doorstep.

The development of 170 holiday homes, 155 retirement flats, a farm shop and spa could be built at Scorton Lakes, a popular wildlife area, near Richmond.

A planning application is yet to be lodged, but an environmental impact assessment scoping request has been submitted to Richmondshire District Council.

The land, owned by Tancred Gravel, was used for quarrying for many years before being transformed into a wildlife area with paths around a series of small lakes. Tancred Gravel and Northumberland Estates, based at Alnwick Castle, describe the new "Tancred Waterside" proposal as a “high end tourism and recreation development that integrates retirement living".

It comes just as work has been finished on the first stage of the improvements at the former quarry, and villagers have formed a campaign group – Save Our Scorton – to fight the plans, with banners and information displayed around the area.


Scorton lakes

Scorton lakes


Resident Peter Blanchard said: “It would be a tragedy for the village if this plan went ahead. We have this wonderful facility on our doorstep. I use it every single day. But the new development would be like Center Parcs in Scorton.”

Although owned by Tancred, for many years the land has been leased by Tarmac, whose quarrying operations finish this month. As part of the conditions of planning permission, Tarmac had to restore the land to make up for the damage done by mineral extraction.

Save Our Scorton (SOS) have nothing but praise for Tarmac, saying the firm has created a great and growing asset for the area.

At a recent packed public meeting in Scorton village hall, Mark Hewitt, Tarmac’s wildlife and ecology director, told villagers that it had incorporated plans for the restoration into the work from the very beginning, planting 50,000 reeds, and creating 50 acres of new parkland and 34 acres of woodland on the 411 acres.

Mr Blanchard said: “Tarmac told us they were going to do all these things and we’ve seen it happen. They’ve kept their word.


Scorton lakes

Scorton lakes


“If this holiday park went ahead the huge investment in time and cost would be lost in favour of something where the only motive seems to be making money. It will destroy nearly everything that’s been done so carefully.”

In its application for the environmental impact assessment, Northumberland Estates and Tancred Gravel emphasise Tancred Waterside’s eco credentials and say the development would “focus on wellness. It would offer natural trails bike hire, yoga and kayaking". They also promise energy efficiency and sustainable construction materials

They emphasise the boost for tourism, adding: “It represents a new critical scale of quality tourist accommodation with a high threshold of experimental activities having an all year round appeal.

“It’s an exciting opportunity to deliver a landscape-led, bespoke holiday and retirement hub while contributing significantly to Scorton and Richmondshire’s elderly housing needs and delivering a range of holiday homes.”

The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust has opposed the scheme, saying: “We would strongly object to the principle of the development. The local authority cannot allow key sites like this to be lost and for the network of habitats provided to be carelessly and needlessly destroyed.”


Scorton lakes

Scorton lakes


Villager Johnson Ramsey said: “Tarmac have put a huge amount of time and money in. It’s an ecologically valuable nature reserve and now it seems all their work and effort could be wasted. How could that happen?”

A spokesperson for Tarmac said: “We’re proud to have completed the restoration of Scorton Quarry in line with our long-term commitments, adding to local conservation and important wider biodiversity targets. It also provides significant public access and footpath connections for the local community to enjoy and engage with nature.

“Tancred Gravel is the landowner of part of the wider site and is within its rights to explore new uses. However, any changes would need to be fully considered and approved by the planning authority.”