Concern over Llŷn turning into a ‘sea of caravans’ as holiday park allowed to expand again
Gareth Wyn Williams, local democracy reporter
Gwynedd’s planning committee has backed plans for a £13m expansion to a holiday park, despite concerns that the area was turning into a “sea of caravans”.
Last month saw councillors delay a decision on the proposals at Hafan y Môr near Pwllheli, to allow for a site visit.
This followed concerns being raised over the scale of the plans, with some councillors questioning the need for so many additional caravans – taking the total to 1,300.
But the site owners, Haven, said that approval would create 58 full time equivalent jobs as well as another 200 building roles during construction.
Involving the demolition of 56 two storey ‘Butlins’ apartments, the now approved plans will also see the building of a new beach café, including terrace and play area, as well as fresh coastal defences.
Including 154 new static caravans, with the entire development spread over seven separate parcels of land, it will also see two replacement buildings for staff accommodation.
Cllr Peter Road, the local councillor for Abererch, appealed on the planning committee to follow the advice of officers and to back the plans.
“I was quite disappointed with what I heard (from councillors) last month,” he said during Monday’s meeting. “96% of workers are local people, and the company pays above the minimum wage.
“The only ones that come in are the entertainment staff, and I’ve had calls from local contractors who fear they will have to let staff go if these plans are refused.”
Already employing over 400 workers, the firm added that all roles are advertised locally first.
But Llannor Community Council claimed that it had not been made clear how many additional statics were proposed, questioning the impact on existing caravan sites in the area as well as concern regarding the re-routing of the coastal path on any public right to access.
The body also questioned how the development fit into Gwynedd’s plan for sustainable tourism.
Cllr Louise Hughes, who had previously opposed the plans, proposed approval having changed her mind folowing the site visit.
But Cllr Owain Williams remained in opposition, questioning the need for such staff accommodation if so many workers were locally based.
This was despite Cllr Edgar Wyn Owen questioning Cllr Williams’ right to contribute and vote, citing his ownership of a caravan site ten miles away.
But the legal officer stated that Cllr Williams was entitled to take part if he felt he had no prejudicial interest.
“I remember when this place opened as Butlins, over the years its expanded and changed lot,” said Cllr Williams.
“If this is approved there will be 1,300 caravans. If you go along the coast from Rhyl to Prestatyn and Abergele, for example, there’s a sea of caravans.
“Do we really want a sea of caravans in Llŷn?”
Cllr Gareth Jones acknowledged that the site provides local employment, but added, “There are too many caravans already, is it not time to say that enough is enough?
“I fear it will be one giant caravan park from Criccieth to Pwllheli, it’s over-tourism.”
But Cllr Owen said, “If we refuse this today we’ll lose on appeal, and the fact that Owain spoke and voted will come up and be used against us.
“I’ve heard no planning reason to refuse this today, we shout that we need affordable housing and to keep local people here, but we can’t unless there’s housing for them.
“What will happen is we’re back in five years looking to close another school as there’s not enough children there, I can’t understand opposing this.
“I’d rather see tourists there than more holiday homes.”
The officers’ recommendation to approve the plans was backed by nine votes to four.