A POPULAR country park in Olveston could face closure after it was threatened with planning enforcement.

The owners of Old Down Country Park are desperate for local people to support the site after they were shocked to learn they had to apply for planning permission.

Arron Banks and his wife Katya bought the country park in 2008 and in the last two years the couple, who own Aust-based finance company Brightside Group Plc, have ploughed almost £3 million into renovating it.

The site had previously been used as a country park until 2004 when it closed and was eventually sold to musician Mike Oldfield.

Mr Banks said: "When we bought it and reopened it as a park last year we were told there was planning permission for the park to operate, but then the council raised technical issues and threatened enforcement, all because one neighbour complained about it.

"We were then told the planning permission had lapsed when the property became residential for several years.

"We now face the situation if they don't pass the planning permission the park will have to shut."

Since Old Down Country Park reopened to the public last spring more than 50,000 visitors have passed through its gates. The park has also created more than 20 jobs, full and part time.

Mr Banks is now appealing for people to show the park support by commenting on the application at South Gloucestershire Council's website.

So far more than 100 residents have given their support, including Olveston and Aust Parish Councils.

Mr Banks said: "We've been taken by surprise really. We thought we might get a few comments but to have so many is overwhelming."

A South Gloucestershire Council spokesman said: "The council has received a planning application for the operation of Old Down Country Park as a park as well as for the conversion and extension of some buildings on the site.

"The council is currently in the process of considering this application and aims to do so by August 18."

The spokesman declined to comment on the points raised by Mr Banks as he said the planning process was underway.

Members of the public have until July 2 to comment.

To view the application in full visit www.southglos.gov.uk