Published: 10:15, 23 December 2019
| Updated: 15:29, 23 December 2019
More exciting details of Port Lympne Reserve's highly anticipated Giraffe Hall have emerged.
Planning documents have now been submitted for the boutique hotel destined for the wildlife park near Hythe, which will see guests observe a herd of giraffes while they relax and dine.
The unique design will allow for the gentle giants to poke their heads through windows and interact with visitors and will be the first of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.
It has also been revealed that more than 6,000 people are already on the waiting list for a stay at Giraffe Hall, which will be run by the Aspinall Foundation.
It is to be created in French House - a Grade II listed property found on a neighbouring site to the Port Lympne reserve.
Dating back to the 15th century, the building is in need of major renovation having fallen into disrepair in recent times.
Some work has already started to restore it.
The design and access statement, from Ray Hole Architects, reveals the hotel, if given the go ahead, will launch in 2021.
It was previously thought it could be open by the end of 2020.
When open it will include 10 luxury en-suite bedrooms within the manor house, while a further five 'pods' will be constructed in the grounds.
The pods will cater to up to four guests, meaning all together Giraffe Hall will accommodate a maximum of 40 guests at any time.
Bedrooms in both the house and pods will offer views over Romney Marsh, the coast and the giraffe enclosure.
An existing restaurant, The Lapa, which is located to the south of French House, will be extended and renovated to provide breakfast, lunch and dinner for guests.
An events building with a canopy is also planned to be constructed within the grounds offering a site for weddings and conferences.
The accommodation will be one of several dotted around the site at Lympne, with the others including Lion Lodge, Hod Deer Creek and the Forest Hideway.
Planning documents state: "We believe this will be a unique year-round and exciting new offer, built on the success of previous award-winning discreet accommodation developments that Port Lympne has created in the past, which will contribute both to the the success of the park and to the South East of England."
Some outer buildings including a shed are proposed to be knocked down, while an improved access road will link to the site from Aldington Road.
All together, 40 jobs are expected to be created from Giraffe Hall.
But since appearing on Folkestone and Hythe District Council's planning portal, the application has been hit with criticism.
One neighbour said of the plans: "As close neighbours of French House we are very concerned that the extensive re-development plans for the wedding venue with access ways, the larger than initially stated car park and the associated new buildings designed to hold various events will have a severely detrimental impact on the protected landscape in the area of outstanding natural beauty with it's cultural heritage to which we were attracted and into which we have greatly invested for those very reasons.
"The peaceful and tranquil scenic environment which is a home for wildlife and ramblers alike, especially along the historically important Saxon shoreline path which links green spaces and ancient settlements will be compromised.
"Surely this development could be scaled back to the wedding venue with accommodation which could be developed in a discrete and environmentally sympathetic way without the invasive 'additional events' building and all it's associated relentless noise and light pollution impact."
Another commenter raised concerns over the "environmental disruption, such as noise, traffic and light pollution".
A decision on the plans is expected in the new year.