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Mold Christmas reindeer facing battle to keep home

A herd of grey deer (Pic: PickPik)

A HERD of reindeer which form part of a popular festive attraction are facing a battle to keep their home.

The Reindeer Lodge in Leeswood, near Mold, draws thousands of visitors a year as people flock to see Father Christmas and his reindeer on a drive-thru festive light trail.

However, the owners of the business based on Black Meadows Farm are potentially facing the prospect of having to remove two wooden buildings used to rear the herd of 31 reindeer.

The buildings were constructed without planning permission in 2018 and 2019, shortly after the owners took over the site.

A retrospective application to allow the shelters to remain in place was originally submitted to Flintshire Council in November 2022.

It was later withdrawn after concerns were raised by Natural Resources Wales and the Coal Authority over drainage, how the reindeers’ droppings would be dealt with and the presence of underground mine shafts nearby.

A fresh bid has now been made to gain retrospective permission for the buildings.

If approval is refused, it’s possible the owners could be issued with an enforcement notice demanding them to remove the shelters.

In a planning statement, agents acting on the owners’ behalf said: “This application seeks planning permission for two buildings associated with the rearing and keeping of reindeer, as well as a seasonal change of use of land to allow visitors on site during certain times of year.

“The business is situated on a farm and has been used as a reindeer farm and visitor attraction from November to December each year.

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“The business has grown year on year into one of North Wales’ leading festive attractions, attracting thousands of visitors into the area each year.

“It has quickly become a festive tradition for many returning visitors and the attraction is largely very well received by the overwhelming majority of local residents.

“To conclude, it is clear that the proposals are compliant with policy and would allow this rural enterprise to continue this form of diversification.”

The Reindeer Lodge was previously named as a cheaper UK alternative to visiting Lapland in a campaign run by outdoor clothing company Regatta.

In 2020, it was also included by the Guardian in a list of the UK’s best Christmas illuminations.

Agents representing the business said any concerns raised by the Coal Authority and Natural Resources Wales had been addressed in the latest application.

The documents also detail plans to replace trees which were previously removed when the reindeer shelters were first built.

However, an organisation which represents Welsh ramblers has objected to the resubmitted proposals due to concerns over the impact on several public footpaths.

In their response, Ramblers Cymru said: “While the applicants may feel they have addressed the issues of manure and sewage, they have completely failed to address the outstanding issue of public paths.

“Public paths will be directly affected by visitors’ cars and commercial activity. Some paths are already obstructed by reindeer paddock fencing.

“In particular, the use of the main track would be severely impacted by visitor vehicle traffic – which, although constrained by pre-booked time slots, is estimated to peak at 60 cars per hour.

“There is no safe place for walkers to pass cars on this track.”

Comments are currently being invited on the application via the council’s website, with a decision expected at a later date.