Frodsham hovercraft centre to move away from M56 over fears it distracts motorway drivers

Reporter:

Neil Bellis

A hovercraft centre in Frodsham has been granted permission to move their business away from the M56.

Hoverforce, which currently operates on land off Brook Furlong, Frodsham, asked for planning permission from Cheshire West and Chester Council to move their business to land off Straight Length, Frodsham.

Also at the same meeting the current owners of the first site at Brook Furlong, David and Janet Cope, asked for permanent permission to be granted to allow them to host recreational activities at the site.

Hoverforce owner, Paul Hanks, told the committee that he wanted to move his business to the new site after a successful three years at the first site because of his concerns over “rubber necking” motorists on the M56.

He said: “We have noticed an increase in rubber necking as we have gotten bigger. In the long term there is a potential risk of a distraction related incident.

”This is not something I want on my conscience or something I wish Hoverforce to be known for.”

He added that the new site on Straight Length had better screening from the M56 and was further away. He said that since opening he had grown the business to have a total of 14 staff and an 8,000 square foot workshop on Mill Lane.

Frodsham councillor, Cllr Lynn Riley said that she had never received a complaint about the company and praised the way the site was operated.

She said the site had brought “real recognition to Frodsham” and was important for local business.

Councillors on the committee raised some concerns that the site was on green belt land but officers reassured them that the applicant had met the criteria for the development.

Planning officer, Fiona Hore told the meeting that the applicant had met the ecology criteria and as the site only operated on weekends its impact was “limited”.

Councillors gave permission for the move on a three year temporary basis by 10-1.

Councillors also gave permanent permission for the previous site – by 9-2 – to continue.

The agent for the site, Steve Goodwin, said that the site, which is adjacent to the M56, had no complaints against it and there were no concerns from the Highways Agency, Cheshire Police or the council about the proximity of the site to the motorway.

Councillors did raise some concerns that there was no current operator on the site – as Hoverforce have vacated the site – and there was no guarantee of what activity would be carried out on the site by the landowner. The permission allows for hovercrafting, zorbing, segways and buggying. 

See full story in the Chester Leader

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