New Center Parcs 'gives £20m boost'

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PA

The fifth Center Parcs holiday village to open in the UK is welcoming its first guests today in a move likely to inject more than £20 million a year into the local economy.

The new £250 million Center Parcs is in Woburn Forest in Bedfordshire and will cater for around 350,000 guests a year.

The new village boasts a subtropical swimming area, 625 lodges, a 75-bedroom hotel and restaurants, shops and leisure facilities.

Center Parcs' owners, asset management firm Blackstone, has invested £100 million in the Bedfordshire village, with the rest of the money coming from four banks - Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds and RBS.

Center Parcs chief executive Martin Dalby said: "After years of hard work, dedication and passion, we're thrilled to be welcoming our first guests to Woburn Forest today and strongly believe the new village has all the ingredients for a very special family break.

"Woburn Forest, set in the undulating woodland of Bedfordshire, opens up the Center Parcs experience to more people in London and south east England."

He went on: "It will provide a massive boost to the area, injecting approximately £20 million per annum into the local and regional economy.

"In addition to the 1,200 people employed in the construction of Woburn Forest, we have recruited and trained 1,500 employees, 40% of whom are within the 16-24 age range and 90% live within 15
miles. These are local jobs for young local people."

Last year Center Parcs welcomed 1.7 million guests to its four existing facilities. The first to open in the UK was Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire in 1987.

Elveden Forest, near Brandon in Suffolk opened in 1989, with Longleat Forest near Warminster in Wiltshire starting in 1994.

The fourth centre near Penrith in Cumbria, now known as Whinfell Forest, was taken over by Center Parcs in 2001.

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