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‘Off-grid’ community hub gets green light from planners

15 May 2024 4 minute read
Menai Bridge by Nic Taylor Photography is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

An “off-grid” community hub development on a play area was unanimously given the thumbs up by planners.

The project on the Maes Meurig estate at Gwalchmai, Ynys Môn, could even be “one of the first ‘off-grid’ community hubs in Wales,” a local councillor said.

A full application for the siting of two steel storage containers for the development was agreed by Anglesey County Council’s planning and orders committee on Thursday, May 9.

The application was submitted by community group HWB Cymunedol Gwalchmai.


The scheme, planned for the county council owned site, councillors were told, “would not look like a standard shipping container”.  With doors, windows and timber cladding, it would  “integrate into the site”.

The Maes Meurig Estate at Gwalchmai (Google Map)

It would comprise of two conjoined shipping containers, both approximately 5.9m by 2.4m.

After construction, the combined dimensions would be a maximum width of 7.4m from east to west and a maximum length of 4.8m from north to south.

Sited on the existing concrete playground, it would be around 2.8m in height.


Senior planning officer Rhys Jones said the development was considered to  “provide an essential facility for the whole community of Gwalchmai”.

It was of an “appropriate scale,” and in a “sustainable and central location,” and was not considered to have any “adverse impact” on local properties.

Located within the development boundary, it was also considered to comply with local planning policy.

The proposal offered “ecological improvements,” a bird box and a bat box would be placed on the hub, and any external lighting was “complying with dark skies requirements”.

Highways had offered no objections and there was room for 35 parking spaces.

The reports described how Hwb Cymunedol Gwalchmai was a group of volunteers who aimed to help make the village “safer and arrange events and sessions for all ages to keep the community together”.

A number of locations had been considered, but the playground site had been chosen because it “worked well” by the housing estate at the top of the village, which had a car park and football field nearby.

It was also close to where service users lived, particularly children, “ensuring safe and easy access desperately needed within the community”.

The plans described activities including cooking on a budget, family events and digital skills for older people.


A document also noted  that “services based outside the village (Families First, CAB etc) are keen that there is a facility which people find easy to access and this will bring in revenue”.

“We are hoping that this cabin will be open on numerous times offering sessions and activities.”

It also anticipated the project could create several part time roles with the employment of a caretaker and organiser.

Crigyll Councillor Neville Evans was “very happy” to propose the application.

“A lot of hard work has gone on in the community to establish this community centre for the whole of Gwalchmai and Maes Meurig , a large estate.  It will be welcomed by the community, children and young people.

“If I have understood this correctly, this could be one of the first ‘off-grid’ community hubs in Wales. They will be using solar power and rain water, so there will be no electricity bills.

“I think we should welcome it,  I congratulate the people behind the scheme who have worked so hard for this for Gwalchmai,” adding the scheme was dependent on lottery funding.

Officers had recommended the application be permitted, with conditions.

Cllr Robin Williams seconded the proposal,  and in a vote it was unanimously accepted.

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