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Community rallies against village pub becoming an AirBnB

20 Mar 2024 4 minute read
Locals protest against plans to convert The Vaynol Arms into an AirBnB

Stephen Price

Members of a close-knit village community have launched a campaign to prevent their local pub from being converted into an AirBnB.

On Sunday 17 March, over 70 people gathered outside The Vaynol Arms in Pentir, Gwynedd to show their support for this much-loved community asset.

A local group, ‘Pentir Village Action Group,’ was established in 2021 to try to raise funds to buy and eventually run a community ‘pub and hub’ to prevent the area turning into a ‘ghost town’.

‘Heart of the village’

The picturesque tafarn and former coaching inn dates back to the mid-18th Century and once formed part of the Faenol Estate.

Its current owner, Duncan Gilroy, has submitted a planning application to convert the Vaynol. But many villagers have been fighting to save it since 2020 when the pub was owned by Robinsons brewery.

Mr Gilroy has said that he plans to convert the building into two holiday lets, but has no plans to change the fabric of the building, which he wants to keep that the same.

The Action Group recently launched a petition to help gain support and awareness, with a spokesperson saying: “It is not just a pub; it’s a community meeting place.  The heart of the village.

“The local ward of Arfon has nearly 900 Airbnb properties, and yet pubs have closed at an alarming rate. In the adjoining villages of Rhiwlas, Bethel, Glasinfryn, Caerhun there is no pub.

“This is a tenacious community, but with the owner wanting to turn the building into holiday lets, we need to show the planners that we have the support of the wider community.”

Pandemic

The Vaynol Arms closed in March 2020 at the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic, but reopened in the summer for a few weeks before closing its doors for the final time and being put on the open market.

Pentir Village Action Group formed in January 2021, holding Zoom meetings and open air socially-distanced talks, before organising remote tours of community pubs in Wales and England to gain more information on how to go about making a success of such a community venture.

After a number of attempts to adapt the pub’s business model, a change of use was lodged with the local council to convert the Vaynol Arms to a training facility and holiday accommodation in Jan 2022.

To the relief of locals, this application was refused due to there being no concrete evidence of non viability; no evidence of marketing widely and no offer from the owner to replace the community asset with another communal space.

Locals protest against plans to convert The Vaynol Arms into an AirBnB

Negotiations on the action group leasing the ground floor to run as a pub and hub took place from April to September 2022 but this plan came to an end with disputes over the banking and lease arrangements.

To the Group’s dismay, a second application was lodged in January 2023 to change the use of the tafarn to holiday accommodation. Again, this application was refused.

Pentir Action continue to oppose the change of use application as do the community council. Their sole aim now is to buy the pub from Mr Gilroy and run it as a community hub featuring a pub, café and shop.

Archdruid Myrddin ap Dafydd

The Group’s spokesperson said: “We are in touch with other community pubs in the wider area (in similar rural locations) which have all been very successful.

“Our meeting outside the pub on Sunday morning was attended by 70 local people (with two days notice), including local Plaid Cymru candidate Catrin Wager and Archdruid of Wales Myrddin ap Dafydd.

At the rally which was held on 17 March, Myrddin ap Dafydd said: “If this pub is given permission to be turned into an AirBnB, it will be lost to the community for ever.

“In many villages, the only community buildings left are the church and the pub – we should treasure them – and they should be in the ownership of the community.”

Pentir Village Action Group’s change.org petition can be viewed here.


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Rob jones
Rob jones
3 months ago

Is it another person from over the border destroying Welsh communities for their own greed

Angel
Angel
3 months ago

I live in burry port and it’s getting same here but unlike there community doesn’t see problems yet one Landlord has ex amount of rental properties he’s actually threw out tenants by raising rent so high they can’t afford it so he has changed them into Airbnbs. There’s 5 around me at moment with 2 more he’s fixing up now. Noise police drugs parties till 4 in morning is just some of the issues. We’ve had to deal with but landlord council are not interested new year for 3 days solid one Airbnb next to us was over crowded and… Read more »

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