THE iconic Fantasy Glades site in Parklands Close could become a tourist hot spot once again – but not as a theme park.
A development application is currently on public exhibition for the 1.7 hectare site, submitted by new owner, Bathurst’s Jeff Crowe, who purchased the property 18 months ago.
Mr Crowe has family in Port Macquarie and appreciates the significant historic value of Fantasy Glades.
The question often asked is: will it return to its former glory? The answer is no.
It is proposed that the site be developed as a caravan park, but not in the traditional sense. And the popular pink castle will be converted into a café/restaurant.
Because of the proximity to neighbouring properties, dining is contained within the castle.
The owner’s brother-in-law Tim van Ekeran, who has worked extensively on the DA, said the zoning allows for a caravan park.
“The development application demonstrates that while it is a caravan park in terminology there is no intention to have any caravans, RVs or camping on site,” he said.
“It will purely be 10 eco-cabins made out of shipping containers, converted using timber and colourbond. Once developed it would not be promoted as a caravan park.”
The development application states a proposed total cost of $766,000.
There is good news for nostalgic fans of Fantasy Glades, with several static attractions set to be renovated and rejuvenated, including the church, Snow White’s cottage and Mother Hubbard’s shoe.
“They were in a dilapidated, vandalised state when we purchased the property,” Mr van Ekeren said.
“Our intention is to return them to their appearance from the days of when Fantasy Glades was a theme park.
“There is so much history on the site, the last thing you want to do is destroy the history. It is as much an asset to us as the ecological aspect. We want some of that nostalgia to stay.”
If all goes to plan, people who are not staying at the cabins can see the attractions if they are guests of the café/restaurant.
“If someone wants to come here for lunch and walk through to show Snow White’s cottage to their kids then they can. That is the sort of feedback we see from the community,” he said.
The ecological impact the development will have is vitally important to the new owner and Mr van Ekeren.
Our intention is to return them (attractions) to their appearance from the days of when Fantasy Glades was a theme park.Tim van Ekeren
A section of the property is zoned E2 ecological, which is an area that cannot be touched. The rest of the block is zoned RE1, which is for recreational use.
“No trees will be removed from any of the ecological zoning,” he said.
“Half the block along the creek and below the roads while not zoned E2, is in a fairly natural state and will be preserved.
“The land above that was previously cleared. When Fantasy Glades was built there were only a handful of trees. The rest of what looks like a forest was planted.
“Some of those will be affected by roads and cabin positioning, but what we are trying to do is avoid any removal of natural forest.
“We have worked closely with an arborist and ecologist. During the process we have also brought a council arborist and ecological staff to speak to us and our professionals to ensure we were on the same page and moving in a direction they could live with.”
It is estimated it will take around one year from the start of development for the park to be open.
“How long that approval process will take is unknown. It isn’t just council managing the process, but also the input of government departments,” Mr van Ekeren said.
“We would like sooner rather than later. Port Macquarie-Hastings Council has been very helpful from the beginning and we have a good relationship with them.”
The development application is on exhibition at Port Macquarie-Hastings Council offices until the end of June, 2017.