Controversial plans for a horse-riding business in the Wasdale Valley have been pulled, days after the man behind them assured the public that he intended to go ahead with the venture.

The Lake District National Park Authority had been considering plans by former zoo boss David Gill, submitted under the name David Rivera, to offer horse riding and carriage drives from his Windsor Farm.

It came two years after an application to renew Mr Gill’s zoo licence for the then South Lakes Wild Animal Park at Dalton was rejected following a report from inspectors that revealed nearly 500 animals had died on site in four years.

If change of use consent had been granted, an animal activity licence from Copeland Council would also have been needed.

But the national park authority confirmed that the application, which had attracted around 90 letters of objection, had been withdrawn. A Copeland Council spokesman said Mr Gill had indicated that he did not intend to pursue his licensing applications.

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Advance bookings were being taken, but the Wasdale Riding Centre website and Facebook page were unavailable yesterday.

On Monday, a post on that same Facebook page announced that the plans were being shelved "for the foreseeable future".

The Facebook page later temporarily disappeared, and when it returned the post had been amended to say: "It is with great regret that due to unforeseen staff health circumstances Wasdale Riding Centre will no longer be opening on May 1.

"It has been exciting preparing and getting ready for the adventure but we now must make the decision not to open as a business until the planning and licence are issued.

"All forward bookings are unaffected by this. We expect to start taking bookings again as soon as the planning and licence is issued. Thank you for your support."

At the time of going to press, Mr Gill had not responded to questions about his decision to withdraw the plans.