THE first phase of plans for a major re-development and expansion of Evesham Country Park have been given the go-ahead.

On Thursday councillors at Wychavon District Council's planning committee waved through detailed plans for the retail section of the new-look park, which was given the green light to be re-developed in 2010.

The proposals, submitted by the developer Eagle One Country Shopping, will see 14 new shops, a kiosk, toilet facility, a re-configured parking area to create new spaces, a temporary surface display area for use as a craft display, enhanced links to Evesham Town Centre and provision for a new service road.

Local member councillor Jo Sandalls proposed approval of the plans.

She added: "I would hope when we move to phase two that the country park will encourage footfall into the town of Evesham because I am not happy with out of town developments."

This work will mark the beginning of the mayor project and development, which will consist of different zones, called Wild for Nature, Wild for Fun and Learning, Wild for Angling, Wild for LIfestyle and Wild for Leisure.

The first phase is part of the Wild for Lifestyle as the retail space will include external display areas, where customers can try before they buy and a direct link between the inside of the shops and the outside area.

When the entire project is complete there will be a new fishing lakes, a playground, 60 holiday cottages, footpath and cycle way, restaurant and 5,370 square metres of retail space.

There will also be new wetlands habitats, a nature reserve, a skatepark and angling facilities on newly created lakes.

The work will also create a farmstead which will offer visiting groups an insight into Worcestershire's rural economy.

The owner of the park Eagle One wants to put the park on a footing alongside major outdoor attractions like the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust in Slimbridge, Gloucestershire.