A PROPOSED £6m expansion of a south Pembrokeshire holiday park, previously given a ‘minded to’ backing by planners, has been recommended for refusal for a third time.
The application for the works at Heritage Park, Pleasant Valley/Stepaside, which had attracted hundreds of objections, was backed by county planners at their September meeting.
The backing, against repeated officer recommendations for refusal, was due to “positive economic benefits”.
As members went against a recommended refusal, a ‘minded to’ cooling-off period was invoked, the application now returning to the October 3 planning meeting, and is likely to ultimately be decided by full council.
It had previously been recommended for refusal at the July meeting, members instead agreeing to a site visit.
The controversial scheme 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.
Heritage Leisure Development (Wales) Ltd, is proposing a £6m investment at the site, next to the historic remains of the 19th century Stepaside ironworks and colliery, which it says will create 44 jobs.
Officer grounds for refusal, based on the Local Development Plan, included “by reason of the proposed bases for holiday lodges being outside of a settlement and the holiday apartments not being within or well-related to a town, service centre or service village”.
The application has seen 245 objections raised, as well as a 38-page objection from Stepaside & Pleasant Valley Residents’ Group (SPRG), along with concerns from local community councils, and rural campaign group the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales (CPRW).
An officer report for members ahead of the October meeting warns of implications for the Local Development Plan (LDP) if members approve the plans.
It acknowledges the economic benefits of the application and the role of tourism in job creation, but says that, while camping and caravanning’s contribution to the local economy is “relatively low”.
“The planning policies of the LDP reflect the objectives of the Pembrokeshire Destination Management Plan (DMP) in relation to the visitor economy by providing a policy framework that supports the provision of new sites and the improvement / upgrading of existing sites, but only at appropriate locations,” the report says.
“In this case it is considered the economic benefits of the proposal would remain limited and furthermore would not extend to any significant degree to supporting the services and facilities that are to be found in settlements due to their sustainably unfavourable location.”
It adds: “Members should be aware that if they are minded to approve the application on the basis of economic benefits, this is a consideration which can be applied to many other existing sites. This would have further consequences for the implementation of policies within the LDP and its delivery.”
In the event committee members go against officer recommendations, a long string of potential conditions have been proposed.