An ex-zoo boss who pulled plans for a riding centre at his farm following objections is being investigated after launching a holiday cottage and advertising horse rides for guests.

David Rivera, who was previously called David Gill and ran the former South Lakes Wild Animal Park at Dalton from 1994 to 2017, had planned to open a riding centre at Windsor Farm in Wasdale this month.

He submitted plans to the Lake District National Park, and would have needed a Copeland Council licence for the venture. It came two years after an application to renew his zoo licence was rejected following a report from inspectors that revealed nearly 500 animals had died on site in four years.But the riding centre plans prompted a swarm of objections, and Mr Rivera withdrew them and announced he was shelving his plans.

Now, he has listed a cottage at his farm on holiday lettings website, with the initial entry stating the farm was home to “a number of horses for riding from our riding centre”. While that reference has been removed, the site still advertises horse riding for an additional charge.

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Andrew Smith, assistant head of development management for the Lake District National Park, said: “We have received complaints alleging that a building at Windsor Farm is being offered for holiday letting and that a riding centre use is continuing. We are currently investigating to ascertain whether a breach of planning control has occurred.”

A Copeland Council spokesman said: “We are currently investigating whether the activities described require a licence.”

Mr Rivera said the online listing had been written before the riding centre plans were scrapped and he amended it as soon as it was flagged up to him.

He added: “Horse rides are available to private guests on our privately-owned horses if they ask for them. The extra charge suggested is simply to cover my time. There is no fixed fee. It is for guests to give a tip as they feel fit.”

“This came about when some guests asked if they could have a ride around the farm . There is no riding centre and there are no plans to open one either.” We are not advertising a riding centre nor treks.

“We have not taken anyone on any rides anyway as the property actually only started taking guests at May bank holiday.

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Mr Rivera said the move to offer holiday bookings was necessary to diversify his business.

He added: “I have decided to let people stay in it for holidays just as so many hundreds of other people do in the Lake District to supplement my income as we are now not doing the riding centre. I have to have income or we cannot farm here anymore. Farming just cannot sustain the council tax and living costs of the farm.

“It has all the relevant certification that is needed to conform to standards and has full liability insurance for the purpose. Just as all the other approximately 14 properties in the valley that are doing exactly the same.”