Councillors consider plans for fruit shed to be used for production of a new speciality beer
Saul Cooke-Black, local democracy reporter
Plans to build a fruit store to allow for a new speciality beer to be made in Monmouthshire are set to be decided tomorrow.
A planning application for the fruit shed on land at Gwehelog Common, near Gwehelog, has been recommended for approval by Monmouthshire council planners ahead of a decision by councillors on Wednesday.
The store is planned on a three-acre fruit farm, which is a working orchard with around 300 small trees.
The applicant wants to use the fruit to make speciality beer and requires storage, according to a planning report, which says brewing will take place off the site.
The building will be split into three areas, with an area for fruit crushing, an area for storage tanks and space to store agricultural equipment.
Fruit from the surrounding orchard will be crushed and then stored and blended in tanks under the plans.
The intention is to provide the Monmouthshire area with a new local fruit beer.
Solar panels will be installed on the roof of the building, which will be carbon negative, according to the plans.
Thirteen residents have lodged objections, while councillors on Gwehelog Community Council have also raised concerns.
The community council said the building is large and “of an inappropriate size in proportion to the size of the site”.
While welcoming the prospect of jobs being created, it said the design of the building “does not appear to reflect a traditional ‘agricultural design’”.
Usk Civic Society has also objected, claiming the application is “lacking in candour about the intended use of the building”.
“Its size and design is not in proportion with the yield of the small orchard which it is intended to serve,” it said.
Former ward councillor Val Smith said she applauds the initiative, but that the design for the proposed use is ‘inappropriate’.
But Monmouthshire council’s rural programmes procurements officer said the project has “the makings of an exemplar and sustainable rural enterprise which has the potential to create and safeguard jobs locally”.
In a letter of support, they said: “The project also looks to be an excellent example of giving due regard to the environment and biodiversity, together with an ethos to be carbon neutral encompassing a number of renewable energy measures, whilst adding to Monmouthshire’s reputation for producing quality food and drink.”
Monmouthshire council’s planning will consider the application at a meeting on Wednesday (June 8).
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