Fairy tale theme park Efteling in Kaatsheuvel in Noord-Brabant has been given permission to expand by the highest Dutch court after a two-year legal wrangle with locals.
The Efteling, which opened in 1951, is one of the oldest theme parks in the country and among the biggest in Europe.
Plans to turn the park into a much larger ‘World of the Efteling’ came a cropper when opponents took legal action because their homes would be enveloped by the new development, affecting their privacy. They also feared increased traffic and parking would create a nuisance.
A 2020 ruling pointed out flaws in the municipality of Loon op Zand’s decision making process, and a too generous allocation of space to the Efteling. The council also hadn’t looked into the environmental impacts of the plans on surrounding natural areas, the judge said.
The current, amended plans, which include extra parking and hotel space, have not been disputed and can now go ahead.
‘It’s a first giant step towards the future,’ CEO Fons Jurgens said.
The park, which welcomed some five million visitors a year pre-coronavirus, is expecting to increase this to seven million once the expansion has been completed. The work will not start straight away because the coronavirus crisis has delayed investment until next year, the park said.
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