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New lease of life awaits for long-forgotten Pembrokeshire landmark

Nick Neumann

Mention the words ‘Roch Gate Motel’ to Pembrokeshire people of a certain age, and the memories will flood back of fun-filled Thursday disco nights and some feel-good community spirit.

But sadly, after 15 years of lying vacant, the property has become something of an eyesore in the area.

Now, thanks to the forward-thinking ingenuity of local farmer and businessman Nick Neumann, the site could once again be restored to its rightful place as a key lynchpin in the Roch community.

After purchasing the site just over a month ago, Nick is already putting plans into motion to reinstate it as an all-embracing, community-driven initiative. The Gate will comprise a village shop and post office, a cafe, bistro, bar, a conference suite for meetings and corporate events and a small number of commercial spaces for local artisan businesses. He also hopes to establish a community garden on the site.

“The support we’re already receiving from the community here in Roch has been extremely supportive, as the site has been something of an eyesore for many years,” he said. 

The former Roch Gate Motel

 “People are keen to see something good happening again, particularly if we can provide a provision for local services, after Roch lost its village shop and Post Office a few years ago.”

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Because the site lies on the main A487 but within the confines of the National Park Authority, Nick knows that he faces a considerable amount of preparation and consultation work with county planners before the development can get underway .

“Since the Roch Gate Motel closed, there have been a few plans to redevelop the site, first as a 40-bedroom Premier Inn but this fell by the wayside when the company decided to open in St Davids,” explains Nick. 

“Then there was the possibility of a new housing development, but when the developers learned it had to be affordable housing, they realised there would be no real market in it and so backed out.  As a result, nothing has happened here for a very long time.”

Nick is himself a local man, having been born and raised in Newgale.  He now farms at Rainbolts Hill, Roch, having returned to the UK from a 13-year- career in agricultural development with British Sugar where he was based in Beijing.  With the advantage of being based directly opposite Roch Gate, he further plans to develop a small holiday park on his land, comprising tasteful lodges which will complement the surrounding landscape.

Earlier this week Nick began clearing the site ready for the next phase of its development.

He is now working closely with local statutory professionals  to prepare and finalise his  plans, and the planning application is expected to be submitted to Pembrokeshire Coast National Park later this Spring.  If the application is successful, Nick is hopeful that The Gate vision will start being brought to life in the summer of 2024.

“Yes, it’s an exciting time for us and I suppose being a local man makes the whl;e operation that much more important,” he concluded.  “There are currently around 560 people living in the village of Roch itself, not counting those living in the outlying areas.  So we want to make sure that the site being used to their advantage.”

The Gate website can be visited on https://www.newgaleholidays.co.uk/roch-gate-motel-the-gate where locals can follow all future progress.