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Anglesey farming family backed in bid to keep popular milkshake vending machine

03 Nov 2021 3 minutes Read
Gareth and Mari Jones of Llefrith Nant, Cemaes with Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, who presented a petition calling for the retention of the milk vending machine.

Gareth Wyn Williams, local democracy reporter

An Anglesey farming family have been backed in their efforts to keep a popular milkshake vending machine.

It had been proposed that Anglesey Council’s planning committee should refuse permission to retain the already constructed wooden hut and hardstanding area which houses Llefrith Nant at Neuadd, Cemaes.

But this afternoon (Wednesday) saw councillors refuse the advice of officers, unanimously backing the plans after citing the economic benefits and relatively small impact on the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

With the site standing just off the A5025, en-route to the Gadlys Hotel, the family had been supported by Llanbadrig Community Council as well as enjoying widespread local support, with the milk supplied from the family’s own herd.

This included 252 letters backing the retention of the facility, as well as another petition containing 3,312 signatures.

Last month, at the behest of local councillors, committee members instead decided on a “virtual” site visit to find out more about the site and surroundings before coming to a decision.

The proposals at Neuadd had been presented by Gareth Jones of the nearby family dairy farm at Nant Y Frân, Cemaes, with the site having been operational since July.

Despite the applicants not owning the application site, agreement had been reached with the landowner of Neuadd Farm, with the development also creating one full-time job.

But the report compiled by authority planning officers recommended refusal of the plans after citing policy contraventions.

These included claims that the proposal would result in “the unacceptable and unjustified development of an isolated A1 retail outlet in the open countryside,” said to be contrary to planning guidelines.

This was despite the authority’s own highways department offering no objection.

‘No harm’

Addressing the committee, Gareth Jones said, “Establishing a shop in Cemaes would not have been feasible, parking spaces are hard to find in winter but impossible in the summer.

“The feedback has been consistently positive, with customers saying that buying direct from the farm was part of the experience.”

In response to questions why they had decided to build the structure without planning permission, Mr Jones added they felt it imperitive that the business was up and running in time for the busier summer season.

Planning officers stated their belief that such a facility should be based in Cemaes, also raising concerns over future management of the site.

But local councillors Aled Morris Jones and Richard Owain Jones both spoke in favour of the applicants.

Cllr Morris Jones cited the widespread local support and the importance of sourcing more “local and high quality” produce, describing the business as “sustainable” and welcoming job creation.

Cllr Ken Hughes went on to say, “The scale and design is wholly appropriate for the area and will not harm the area whatsoever.”

Members did, however, accept a proposal that permission only be granted for as long as Mr Jones owned and operated the site,  and would not remain in place in perpetuity.

Justifying the decision to approve, the unanimous vote was based on supporting a local rural business and a feeling it would not impact negatively on the north Anglesey Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

As members went against the advice of officers, the application will be presented for final approval following a month’s “cooling off” period.

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