NATIONAL PARK planners have gone against officer recommendations by narrowly backing a scheme to turn surplus public toilets to a takeaway ice cream parlour/coffee bar.
The application, by Mike Harris, included a beach-themed small retail unit and a small rear extension for a kitchen at closed public toilets next to Newgale Campsite.
It was recommended for refusal at the June 7 meeting of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park’s development management committee.
The plans, which included a new seasonal public disabled toilet to be provided by the applicant, have even gained the support of local MP Stephen Crabb and Senedd member Paul Davies, the committee heard.
Speaking at the meeting, applicant Mike Harris said: “Members are actually deciding whether or not there will be public toilet facilities at the busy north beach area at Newgale.
“The takeaway café is secondary in importance, but we feel it makes good use of a derelict building and provides the income to help finance the upkeep and maintenance of the public toilets free at the point of use, and at no cost to the taxpayer. It will retain 100 per cent of the accessible toilets at the busiest area of the beach.”
Concerns were expressed by planners at heavy flooding previously experienced in Newgale, with the road through the village due to be moved back behind it and talk of ‘no managed intervention’ in tackling flooding in decades to come.
Mr Harries described flooding scenes shown to committee members, as one in 50-year events.
Councillor Reg Owens proposed members go against officer recommendations, saying: “There’s a fair distance for disabled people to other toilets; there’s very little facilities in Newgale and yet it’s a popular area, it’s what is needed. I fully support this application and would formally propose approval.”
Cllr Owens’ proposal, seconded by Councillor Peter Morgan, passed by nine votes to seven, with two abstentions.
As the plan is a departure from officer recommendations, planners may only be ‘minded to’ approve it at this stage, meaning it will be heard again at a future planning committee for final ratification, as part of a ‘cooling off’ period.
Refusal was recommended on the grounds the proposal is in a flood risk area, it seeks “to increase and intensify development uses within the coastal change management area” contrary to adopted policy, and other criteria including being outside a retail centre and in a countryside location.