Zookeeper hits out at council's 'lack of vision' as Nottinghamshire animal sanctuary plans rejected

The 31-year-old vowes never to give up on his vision for the sanctuary. Credit: BPM

Councillors have rejected plans to build an endangered animal sanctuary complex near a village in Nottinghamshire.

The proposal for the 'Broxtowe Retreat' included a sanctuary, themed spa, restaurant and 27 guest lodges.

Significant concerns were raised by Broxtowe Borough Council's planning committee over the project's potential negative effects on the green belt, flood risks, and increased traffic, leading to the plan's rejection.

Exotic animal keeper, Reece Oliver from Strelley, who submitted the plans, says he's disappointed at the council's "lack of vision."

The 31-year-old, who claims to have invested £300,000 in the application process, says he won't be giving up on his vision.

Mr Oliver hoped to have around 10 enclosures and said it would create 60 jobs Credit: ITV Central News

The project, set over 23 acres near Station House, was designed to be a "unique development of world-class standards," with at least 10 animal enclosures, 120 car parking spaces and the creation of 60 jobs.

Mr Oliver highlighted the educational potential of the sanctuary, which included a learning centre focused on conservation and education excellence.

However, council officers recommended refusal of the development, citing its inappropriateness for green belt land and its potential to harm the character and appearance of the area.

Councillor Phillip Owen said: “I suspect it wouldn’t increase the biodiversity of natural species, but rather the species you expect to find in the middle of Africa.

"Why does an animal sanctuary need a large restaurant and a spa as well? Are the animals going to have a massage in the spa?"Residents also raised concerns about increased noise and traffic at the site off the A609 Ilkeston Road.

Rodger Gray told the meeting the existing land is important for residents of Trowell so they can “escape the constant presence” of noise and pollution of the M1.“It's a green lung that takes walkers away from today’s hectic life," he said. "There's beauty in the form of green, verdant pasture land, which is also home to a plethora of nature such as badgers, foxes, bees, butterflies and owls."Mr Gray added “warmer, wetter winters" would mean the risk of flooding would "only get worse".

Protestors outside Broxtowe Borough Council Credit: BPM

A group of animal rights protestors gathered outside the council office to voice their concerns, calling the project a "glorified zoo".

The proposal faced opposition not only from council members but also from the public, including a group of animal rights protesters who gathered outside the council office to voice their concerns, labelling the project a "glorified zoo." Two councillors voted in favour, while the majority of councillors voted to reject the plans.Towards the end of the meeting, Mr Oliver was reprimanded for an outburst in response to Cllr Marshall, who said being a 'carbon negative' development was "some claim". "We've proven it," Mr Oliver shouted four times.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Oliver said he would appeal the decision, adding: “Both Labour and the Tories are short-sighted. It’s amazing how little of them read the literature.“I think other councils would relish this opportunity to have such an opportunity to have an amazing project. There’s so much red tape, I’m just a young guy who wanted to help animals and local people and I’ve been told no.”

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