WORKINGTON MP Mark Jenkinson has welcomed a multi-million-pound plan to create an eco-based housing development and country park in west Cumbria, which has been recommended for approval by planning officers.

If passed next week by the planning committee at Allerdale Borough Council, the first phase of the Derwent Forest project will see work begin on the restoration and opening up of more than 1,000 acres of the former Broughton Moor arms depot.

The site, between Cockermouth and Workington, has been closed to the public for more than 80 years.

Millions of pounds will be invested in removing the military fencing that kept the site secure and in creating new cycle ways, paths, parkland and woodland.

Mr Jenkinson said: “I welcome development of the site at RNAD Broughton Moor, having watched the procrastination around it for well over a decade.

"Having been closely involved with the site as portfolio holder in my time at Allerdale Borough Council, and having visited the site and met with the those involved around the development a number of times since my election to Westminster, I have always been clear that any significant development should be accompanied by a traffic solution that limits the impact on surrounding villages.

"Local planning rules dictate that further development on the scale planned will require the building of new schools to cater for children from the development, and this must not be the start of incremental creeping development that does not deliver infrastructure upfront.

"I have long campaigned for better connected public rights of way, and the promises made around rights of way and cycle routes are welcome. This is an exciting time for RNAD Broughton Moor, and I look forward to seeing it brought back into full use by new homeowners and the wider community."

Land polluted by the former military activities will be cleaned up and old mine shafts capped and made safe. Further investment in the site’s bio-diversity is also planned.

Nigel Catterson, executive chairman of developers, Derwent Forest Development Consortium Limited, said: “We’re aiming to open up the site’s facilities and natural resources as soon as practicable.

“The coast-to-coast cycle path is a nationally-significant resource and brings with it activity and spending power and we’ll begin working on our link to it immediately, should our application be successful.

“We’ll also focus on the new footpaths and woodland trails and I’m looking forwards to seeing people enjoying them all.”

Amongst the facilities promised are a village green and school .

Traffic surveys by independent consultants show that only minor works will be required to the local road network and these have been agreed with the highway authority.