Western Daily Press (Saturday) - - Front Page - ALEX ROSS CHIEF REPORTER [email protected]­plc.com

A£3M gate­way to the Mendip Hills fea­tur­ing a visi­tors cen­tre and shops is be­ing drawn up un­der the eye of a well-known farm­ing fam­ily in the re­gion.

Tim Mead, owner of Yeo Val­ley, the largest or­ganic dairy company in Bri­tain, pur­chased the four-and-ahalf acres at Bur­ring­ton Combe last year.

Now he wants to in­vest mil­lions of pounds on pro­vid­ing a ‘vis­i­tor’ des­ti­na­tion’ for the sur­round­ing area.

He wants a visi­tors’ cen­tre, cafe, out­door shops and maybe a hos­tel.

More car park­ing up the gorge, sav­ing fam­i­lies from a steep walk, could also be in­tro­duced.

Mr Mead presented the plan to a ‘sup­port­ive’ Mendip Hills Ar­eas of Out­stand­ing Nat­u­ral Beauty (AONBs) last week.

Speak­ing to the West­ern Daily Press, he said: “We want to turn the place into a gate­way for peo­ple to get up the Mendips. Yeo Val­ley gets 50,000 peo­ple a year - but we’d like even more peo­ple to come here and ex­plore the nat­u­ral beauty around where we are based.

“By pro­vid­ing a spot where peo­ple can eat, sleep or park their cars, we hope to cre­ate a tourist at­trac­tion along­side Ched­dar Gorge and We­ston-super-Mare.”

The land around the B3134 in­cludes the Bur­ring­ton Inn and a bike shop which has re­cently re­opened called Bad Ass Bikes.

A burnt-out gar­den cen­tre and land which was used for air­port park­ing also forms part of the site.

Mr Mead said: “It is early days, we only re­cently pur­chased the site, but plans are aloft for what we want to do. I think there is real po­ten­tial to bring in more visi­tors to the area which would ben­e­fit the econ­omy.”

Adrian Fen­ton is draw­ing up the plan. He is projects and con­ser­va­tion di­rec­tor for Holt Farm, which is part of Mr Mead’s Yeo Val­ley group.

He said: “We have ti­died up the site and now we’re look for­ward.

“We have a con­ser­va­tion team based here and plans are be­ing drawn up for ex­tra fa­cil­i­ties here.

“This is the road peo­ple com­ing from ar­eas like Southamp­ton will be com­ing along, but we have noth­ing to per­suade them to stop.

“Hikes and bik­ers come here, but not many fam­i­lies.

“With restau­rants, a cafe and maybe a hos­tel, we hope to pro­vide a tourist des­ti­na­tion.”

Ave­line’s Hole in Bur­ring­ton Combe. Tim Mead, left, owner of Yeo Val­ley, wants to build a £3m gate­wayto the Mendip Hills

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