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Gloucestershire Business News

Revealed: the perfect spot for love birds?

The headquarters of the UK's Wildlife and Wetlands Trust (WWT) hopes to set the hearts of ornithologists a-flutter with the new retail offer of a chance to bed down with the birds - if planners accommodate their request.

Positioned discreetly off an overflow car park at the Slimbridge venue, a group of Shepherd huts which will cost up to £45,000 per unit will be deployed as part of an initiative to lure punters with binoculars and a sufficient short-break budget.

While Shepherd huts used privately usually require no planning permission, commercial use is contingent upon local authority agreement, and Cheltenham-based Brodie Planning Associates (BPA) have indicated to Stroud District Council that the proposed huts will be provided by Norfolk-based manufacturer Black Sheep.

Features shown on the maker's website showcase integral bathrooms, underfloor heating and woodburner options, as well as custom specification and the reassurance that manufacturing methods and materials are sustainable.

BPA told planners: "The application is for the siting of five Shepherd huts which are to be located on an existing grassed area to the north-east of the existing car park for the visitor centre, and forms part of the overspill car park area.

"A parking area is proposed with a pedestrian footway leading to the proposed huts. The vehicle access is provided via the existing access through the visitors and overspill car park."

The huts will be of two designs, all one-bed units. The Cheviot measures 7.2m by 2.5m and retails at £25,999 plus VAT, while the larger Lincoln (7.5m by 3m), costs £45,999 plus VAT and, the maker says, takes the experience "to another level, this is the ultimate luxury accommodation."

Both designs are finished in painted metal with a small area of decking proposed to offer a small outdoor space for each of the huts.

BPA added: "The vision for the huts... is to provide a unique opportunity and experience with the occupants of the accommodation having access to the wildfowl and wetlands to explore the walkways and wetlands at their leisure and to be able observe all the nature and wildlife beyond the normal opening times of the of the visitor centre. The proposal would therefore provide an additional and different visitor experience at the centre by providing for short stay accommodation linked to the SWW itself, while also offering accommodation nearby other tourist attractions."

● As a charitable trust, the foot-accessed huts would also be run in conjunction with the visitor centre, the WWT said, with any monetary benefits created from the huts being "reinvested directly into the conservation of the SWWT site and to contribute to their ambitions". Slimbridge was created in 1946 by Sir Peter Scott, who subsequently went on to found the Wildife and Wetlands Trust.

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