Plan to transform butterfly park into £12m eco homes site

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MULTI-million pound plans to create one of the most energy-efficient developments of its size in the country are being put forward for Long Sutton Butterfly and Wildlife Park.

The park, which is due to be closed to visitors at the end of this season, could be replaced by 87 eco homes under ambitious £12million plans in the latest of a string of green projects for the town.

The “Sutton Park” development was revealed after a formal application was made to South Holland District Council.

Butterfly Park director Peter Smeaton said: “The site as a wildlife park is not financially viable in this economic climate. It costs £100,000-plus to keep the site running, which we have put in the last four years. We have seen reduced visitor numbers and there is no foreseeable change going forward.

“The only logical outcome is to completely change the site for an alternative use and we think this is a great alternative use rather than it being a net drain to Long Sutton as it currently is.”

Mr Smeaton said the development would also provide a long-term income stream for the town with an annual community payment for Long Sutton Parish Council.

The 12-acre site would include one to five bedroom two-storey homes, with solar panels on the roof of each one.

Residents would be set to benefit from 14 10KW microturbines and each home would be south-facing to get maximum benefit from the sunlight.

An existing orchard will remain on the park, while two acres have also been set aside for allotments in the plans.

The plans have been drawn up with the help of Jerry Harrall, of SEArch architects, who was also behind the six bungalows in Unity Gardens.

Data from the bungalows, which operate without fossil fuels, has been used to make the new plans as “green” as possible.

Dr Harrall said: “It’s now time to recognise that we need inward investment into our district and market towns from business owners and entrepreneurs.

“That inward investment will demand high quality homes and that’s what this development is doing. It’s providing starter homes, affordable homes. We have 87 affordable homes; they are affordable to live in.

“That’s what my understanding of affordable homes is. Homes that use no fossil fuels.”

Dr Harrall says he is confident the development will attract interest from the UK’s largest building firms.

Work could start as soon as spring 2013 if the plans are approved.

About 2.8MW of energy is already created by two fields of solar panels on land at the park.