Respects paid across Herts, Beds, Bucks and Northants after the death of Nelson Mandela
New Center Parcs To Open
Center Parcs have announced they're going to go ahead and build their fifth UK resort in Bedfordshire, creating up to 2,700 jobs.
The development will see 625 forest lodges, a 75-bed hotel, a swimming pool, a lake and other facilities built at Millbrook.
The centre's set to open in spring 2014, creating 1500 jobs - mainly for local people. A further 1,200 people will be employed in the construction of the site.
Center Parcs, which has existing sites at Whinfell Forest in Cumbria, Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, Elveden Forest in Suffolk, and Longleat Forest in Wiltshire, said the construction project would be "the largest of its type in Britain for many years."
The new development's been welcomed by the Prime Minister David Cameron, who said "Center Parcs is much loved by many and this new site is not only great news for holiday makers but great news for the economy too.
"This expansion and the jobs that it brings will be a real boost to growth and a sign of the increasing investor confidence that there is too.”
Center Parcs originally identified the site in Warren Wood near Flitwick in 2004 but the development sparked protests about its impact on the green belt. The company did not get planning permission until 2007 following a public inquiry and it was then further delayed by the economic downturn.
About 10% of the trees in the forest will be cut down to make way for the project but Center Parcs are promising to plant 40 acres of trees elsewhere to offset the impact.
Center Parcs chief executive Martin Dalby said the site is in "a fantastic location'' because it is an hour's drive away from the north of London near the M1 motorway.
He said: "We think this will be extremely successful. It's fantastic news for the local economy."
Below are artist's impressions of how the new Center Parcs resort will look
Nelson Mandela made an emotional visit to Bedford in April 2000
Four months after paediatric care was significantly reduced at Bedford Hospital, the service that allows children to stay overnight has returned
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