Planners set to visit site of proposed £6m holiday park expansion
Bruce Sinclair, local democracy reporter
Planners are to visit the site of a proposed £6m expansion of a Pembrokeshire holiday park, which objectors fear would ‘swallow’ the neighbouring village.
The application for the works at Heritage Park, Pleasant Valley/Stepaside, which had attracted hundreds of objections, was recommended for refusal at the meeting of the county council’s planning committee yesterday (July 25).
Grounds for refusal included “by reason of the proposed bases for holiday lodges being outside of a settlement and the holiday apartments not being within or well-related to a town, service centre or service village”.
The controversial scheme includes the installation of 48 bases for holiday lodges, a spa facility at a former pub, holiday apartments, a café and cycle hire, equestrian stables, a manège and associated office, and associated works.
Heritage Leisure Development (Wales) Ltd, is proposing a £6m investment at the site, next to the historic remains of the 19th century Stepaside ironworks and colliery, which it says will create 43 jobs.
The application has seen 245 objections raised, as well as a 38-page objection from Stepaside & Pleasant Valley Residents’ Group, along with concerns from local community councils, and rural campaign group the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales (CPRW).
Agent Helen Ashby-Ridgway said the development, which would include a five-star spa available for public use, was of the “highest quality,” which would bring “high-value” visitors to the county.
She said there were no material reasons to refuse the application, the only one given was location.
“We must remember Stepaside is not set in aspic,” she told committee members, adding: “In granting planning permission you will taking a proactive approach in making Pembrokeshire a destination of choice.”
She asked, in the event members were not minded to support the scheme, they agree to a site visit.
Speaking on behalf of Stepaside & Pleasant Valley Residents’ Group, Trish Cormack said she was pleased at the refusal recommendation but was disappointed there wasn’t enough emphasis on the environment, traffic and what the group sees as overdevelopment.
She told members the scheme would see a 64 per cent increase in the number of holiday units on site, which would “give rise to a huge increase in traffic”.
Mrs Cormack also said: “The beautiful character of the valley would be lost forever,” adding the holiday lodges would be “a sad and tacky backdrop to an important piece of Welsh heritage.”
In a plea to avoid Stepaside being “swallowed as a whole,” she said: “The very peace and beauty that residents and visitors love would be gone forever. Let us keep Pleasant Valley pleasant.”
Councillor Brian Hall initially moved the recommendation to refuse planning, but later withdrew following a proposal by Councillor Mark Carter for a site visit, which was unanimously supported.
The application will return to a future planning committee.
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