Future secured at Wolf Watch UK in Shropshire

24 January 2019

A wolf conservation centre’s future in Shropshire has been secured after £200,000 plans were approved to create a holiday lodge and educational facility.

Wolf Watch UK was established in 1993 by Tony Haighway as a private membership wolf conservation group to rescue and care for displaced wolves from zoos in the UK along with his partner, Eva Dutton, and their team of dedicated volunteers. 

Shropshire Council’s planning department has approved plans designed by the Roger Coy Partnership in Eydon, Northamptonshire, to build a short-stay holiday lodge and educational facility within the near 100-acre site.

The development will replace an existing barn that maybe re-located to the edge of a small lake as an observation place.

Work will start towards the end of this year by Severn Oak Timber Frames in Lightmoor, Telford, who will manufacture and build Kgosi Lodge which is named after a cub, Kgosi, that Tony rescued along with his sister, Madadh, from a zoo in Port Lyme, Kent. 

“It is two years since we hatched the idea to make Wolf Watch UK more sustainable without being too commercial because it is a difficult balancing act,” Tony said. “We are open to members but if you have too many feet through the door, you spoil that which you are trying to preserve.

“It is a marvellous achievement to have had our plans passed by Shropshire Council. This is different to their usual planning applications, but Roger Coy’s designs and the way he has helped us through the whole process has been vital. I don’t think it would have happened without the support of him and his team.

“We’re a tiny organisation and this decision means we can be sustainable in the future.

“The building is a unique design, it will stretch out across the valley on an oak structure and will be a flagship project for our builder Will Onions and his wife Nicky, who own Severn Oak Timber Frames. They are also really keen to help us make this a reality and have substantially reduced their costs.

“We will rent out Kgosi Lodge to members for short stay holidays and also use the building as an educational facility that will enable us to generate funds and employ a manager.

“All this means we will be able to continue our work to provide for the welfare of the current and future wolves in our care.”

Roger Coy, managing director of the Roger Coy Partnership, said this has been one of the most interesting projects he has been involved in since he set-up the company in 1981.

He said: “To have received full planning permission after working on this long-term project is satisfying in several ways.

“It has been really interesting designing a structure which hangs over the valley and will give visitors stunning views during their stay as well as knowing its success from the rental income will safeguard the future of Wolf Watch UK. “Tony, Eva and their volunteers are fully dedicated to the wolves and we are pleased to have played our part in helping them continue their work to educate people to develop an understanding of wolves and other environmental issues.”