Work is set to start next year on creating Great Wolf Resorts’ new £200 million water park at Bicester.

The company won planning consent in May following its appeal to the Planning Inspectorate. The decision followed last October’s refusal by Cherwell District Council.

Great Wolf has now said it is about to begin the search for a construction contractor and has pledged the tender will prioritise support for and from local suppliers wherever possible and will focus on apprenticeships and developing skills in the local community.

Its proposals, which are likely to bring 1,000 construction jobs and 600 more to operate the park, had faced strong opposition from locals.

However, two training providers have spoken in support of the plans.

A spokesman for ACE Training, an Oxfordshire-based company specialising in training and apprenticeships, said: “Great Wolf Resorts’ proposals will provide not only a vital £200m investment in the local economy, but also an opportunity to invest in the next generation of construction professionals right here in Oxfordshire.

“Covid-19 has had a devastating effect on the local economy and we welcome the news that a successful company like Great Wolf wishes to invest in our community.”

A spokesman for the Oxfordshire Construction Training Group, which has 40 member companies, said: “We welcome the significant level of inward investment that Great Wolf Resorts’ proposals will bring to the area.

“Construction is a major part of the local economy providing skilled employment for many Oxfordshire residents. We believe that the entire community will gain enormously from the presence of this new facility, with the real potential of an array of permanent job opportunities, including apprenticeships.”

Murray Hennessy, chief executive for Great Wolf Resorts, said: “Bringing a Great Wolf Lodge to the UK market is a personal career highlight for me.

“I spent 28-years of my life living, working and raising a family in the UK, and know our resort will provide a welcoming, fun-filled escape to families who are craving more quality time together.

“We are excited to become part of this community, and to help support Chesterton and the wider Bicester area continue to prosper with a variety of economic, recreational, community and social benefits.”

As well as the water park, the scheme will have a family entertainment centre, 498-room hotel, conference areas and outdoor nature trail.

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