Controversial plans to transform a much-loved heritage attraction have taken a step closer to reality after a planning application was officially submitted.

The Royal Gunpowder Mills (RGM) in Beaulieu Drive, Waltham Abbey, could see massive changes under plans from children’s activity company PGL and the attraction’s charitable foundation.

The proposal to Epping Forest District Council is for an outdoor ‘recreation and activity centre’ for children, including: new buildings for accommodation, dining and changing rooms; conversion of listed buildings for more accommodation and classrooms; a new lake for water activities; and the ‘erection of free-standing activity structures’.

The plans have faced heavy opposition for more than a year, and more than 800 people called for a public consultation which never happened.

There are fears the PGL centre could threaten jobs, valuable artefacts and public access to the Grade II* listed site, and some feel public concerns have been ignored.

However, chief executive of the RGM Andrew Coates has previously said the proposals – which are backed by the Heritage Lottery Fun with a £5million grant – will secure the future of the entire site, including a scheduled monument and a site of special scientific interest.

Any comments of support or objection for the plans must be given to the district council by Monday February 1.

For more information on how to make a comment, phone 01992 564 436, email or visit