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Opposition from Nevern local community council to adventure tourism hub

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NATIONAL park members are to visit the site of a proposed new adventure tourism hub in north Pembrokeshire, which has sparked fears of a ‘bias’ for planners.

In an application before the June 5 meeting of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park’s development management committee, Jet Moore, managing director of Adventure Beyond Ltd, sought permission for an outdoor adventure centre, with art studio and storage space above, and associated works at The Old Bus Depot, Moylegrove.

The plot was originally used as a bus depot by the founder of the Richards Bros bus company.

Concern have been raised about the scheme, including local community council Nevern, and opponents fear that increased business for adventure firms will worsen the plight of birds and animals, some of which are on the UK’s amber conservation list.

In a supporting statement for the scheme, Jet Moore, managing director of coasteering, kayaking and field studies outdoor activities provider Adventure Beyond Ltd, says a site previously used for equipment and vehicles necessary for activities at Ceibwr Bay and surrounds may soon be unavailable, with “the Old Bus Depot site is the only suitable commercial site for us to transfer our operations to”.

The applicant said there has been “much positive feedback” to the scheme, but adds: “However, I am also aware that, sadly, a small but vocal group has taken against the development. I am not sure exactly what the objections are, all that has been communicated to me is that they are against ‘over-tourism’ at Ceibwr.”

He concluded: “This development has been part funded by a Shared Prosperity Fund Grant allocated by Pembrokeshire County Council. The grant must be spent by the end of 2024, or the funds are lost and will be retained by central government. Consequently, time is of the essence, and if planning permission is denied there is no time for an appeal and to construct the building before the end of 2024.

“Because of this the owner of the site, Consulting AM Ltd, has advised me that if planning permission is refused it will give the site to Pembrokeshire County Council, who paid for its acquisition through the grant.

“Assuming the council to be short of funds the site will then remain strewn with glass, metal and plastic and there will be no new replanting. The council may decide to fence it off to reduce its public liability risk, making the site an eyesore.”

Committee members were recommended to agree to a site visit prior to formal consideration at a later national park planning meeting, with members hearing amended plans had now been submitted.

Members were also told there had been a number of objections relating to the scheme with “a perception of bias” in relation to the grant, the committee having many county councillors as members.

Members were told the grant itself was not a material consideration in planning.

Members agreed to a site visit, with the scheme returning to a future meeting.

Business

Legal challenge to £6m holiday park expansion

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A CAMPAIGN group which has launched a legal challenge against a recently-granted scheme for a £6m expansion of a south Pembrokeshire holiday park is appealing for financial support to cover its legal fees.

Back in February, Pembrokeshire planners heard a legal challenge to a granted application for works at Heritage Park, Pleasant Valley/Stepaside had been launched.

The holiday park scheme had previously been backed twice by county planners after a ‘minded to approve’ cooling-off period was invoked as it was against repeated officer recommendations to refuse.

The controversial scheme by Heritage Leisure Development (Wales) Ltd includes the installation of 48 bases for holiday lodges, a spa facility at a former pub, holiday apartments, a café and cycle hire, equestrian stables, a manège and associated office, and associated works.

It is said the scheme, next to the historic remains of the 19th century Stepaside ironworks and colliery, will create 44 jobs.

Officer grounds for refusal, based on the Local Development Plan, included the site being outside a settlement area.

Along with 245 objections to the current scheme, Stepaside & Pleasant Valley Residents’ Group (SPVRG Ltd) – formed to object to an earlier 2019 application – also raised a 38-page objection, with a long list of concerns, describing the current application as “a reincarnation of an earlier application, which first alerted the residents of Stepaside, Pleasant Valley and the surrounding villages of the applicant’s plans to implement a complex and sprawling development which would take over the whole valley”.

The 2019 application – which had been recommended for refusal – was later withdrawn.

Legal challenges have also been mounted in connection with applications on the site.

A legal challenge to try and overturn a council decision to approve three planning applications at Heritage Park was launched in 2021 by the Stepaside and Pleasant Valley Residents Group (SPVRG Ltd), which failed in early 2022.

Following that challenge failure, a question was submitted to full council last year after it was revealed the costs awarded to the council amounted to £10,000, despite the costs being higher.

Members heard that the external legal fees paid totalled £34,000 plus VAT.

In its latest legal challenge, and fundraising appeal, SPVRG Ltd has said: “Permission was granted, even though it was against the recommendation of the planning officers and despite the objections of the three community councils involved, the two local county councillors and 245 residents. It also went against the Local Development Plan.”

It added: “This has been a stark example of a majority of county councillors, first on the planning committee and then in the full council, failing to listen to those who know best – the people who live and work in the area, and their own expert officers.”

Legal fees for the first stage of a judicial review are expected to be at least £14,000, with £1,200 raised to date through SPVRG’s crowdfunding page.

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Business

Emergency work at Royal Lion Hotel given the go-ahead

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A PROMINENT Tenby hotel, which had an Urgent Works Notice served on it by the national park due to the unsafe condition of external windows, has been given the go-ahead for works.

The poor condition the Grade-II-listed Royal Lion Hotel has recently led to an Urgent Works Notice being served on it by the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.

Safety concerns have been raised in recent months by councillors and members of the public over the hotel, in the town’s conservation area, overlooking the North Beach.

A listed building planning application to reinstate the hotel’s windows was submitted to the authority by South Terrace Developments Ltd.

A spokesperson for Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority has previously said: “The Park Authority has served an Urgent Works Notice on the Royal Lion Hotel in Tenby.

“The owners acknowledge the risk posed by the windows and have proposed an alternative scheme to begin remedial works, having recently submitted a listed building application to reinstate the windows to the High Street and White Lion Street frontages.”

An Urgent Works Notice can be served by an authority which believes that a building is not being properly maintained. It gives the owner a specific time in which to carry out necessary works.

The plan for the hotel sought consent for replacement bays and windows, insertion of a new door replacing an existing window, and minor ancillary works.

As a consultee to the proposal, Tenby Town Council’s members sought more information as to the materials to be used for the replacement windows.

They were also concerned about the proposal to install a door opening on to White Lion Street.

It was pointed out: “The carriageway is narrow in this location and vehicles often mount the pavement to pass each other which could compromise safety of individuals using this door.”

A report for planners, recommending approval, said: “An Urgent Works Notice is in force with regards to the unsafe bay windows to the front elevation.

“The application relates only to the original hotel building with listed building consent sought for replacement bays and windows, insertion of a new door replacing an existing window and minor ancillary works.

“The proposed scheme is in keeping with the character of the listed building, and its setting in terms of design and form. As such, the application can be supported subject to conditions.”

The application was conditionally approved by officers under delegated powers.

The hotel was rebuilt in the late C18 and extensively altered 1853-4 when the façade was remodelled and raised a storey to four floors with two tiers of canted bay windows, the report for planners said.

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Goodwick horse training school plans denied

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PLANS for a north Pembrokeshire equine training school for a business that doesn’t yet exist on some of the best agricultural land have been turned down by the national park.

In an application submitted to Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, Mr G W Richards sought permission for a 39-metre-long sand school for use in ‘breaking’ and training horses at Llanwnwr Farm, Trefasser, Goodwick.

An officer report, recommending refusal, said the proposed site was located “within an agricultural field which The Predictive Agricultural Land Classification Map identifies as Grade 3a land”.

It adds: “Best and most versatile agricultural land is defined in Planning Policy Wales as Grades 1, 2 and 3a. Land in grades 1, 2 and 3a should only be developed if there is an overriding need for the development. Officers consider that the applicant has not demonstrated an overriding need for the sand school to be located on agricultural land classified as best and most versatile. A recommendation to refuse planning permission is made.

“The proposal is to develop a sand school for use in ‘breaking’ and training horses. The Design and Access Statement states that this will allow the applicant’s son to stay within the area and develop a small business on the family farm. The business does not currently exist.

“The proposed use involving breaking and training horses is a use which typically requires a countryside location. In this particular case however, the proposal is for a business that does not yet exist and very limited information has been submitted to support the proposal.   In addition to the lack of justification for the use, Officers have significant concerns regarding the specific proposed location of the proposal. Planning Policy Wales Edition 12 section 3.58 states that agricultural land of grades 1, 2 and 3a is the best and most versatile, and should be conserved as a finite resource for the future.”

The application was refused on the grounds it would be “an unjustified development in the open countryside which would result in the loss of best and most versatile agricultural land (Grade 3A)” and “The proposed development is not considered to be well designed in terms of place as other land within the applicant’s control is available of a lower grade agricultural land value”.

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