Powerboat dealer’s Abersoch cafe rejected amid concerns over lack of Welsh language name
Gareth Wyn Williams, local democracy reporter
Plans to build a new cafe bar to replace an Abersoch petrol forecourt have been rejected by Gwynedd Council planners, amid concerns by the Town Council about a lack of a Welsh language name for the development.
Powerboat dealer Abersoch Land and Sea (ALS) had submitted plans for an eating and drinking spot on its existing forecourt, citing plans to move away from petrol filling station use.
According to planning documents the Town Council “expressed disappointment that there was no intention to have a Welsh language name for the business and did not believe that fair consideration was given to the Welsh language.”
Developers had promised two new permanent and two temporary jobs in the holiday home hotspot, with accompanying images suggesting that the site would be named ‘Apres Soleil’.
The proposals, which did not reach planning committee stage, would have seen the new cafe replace the existing petrol pumps.
But according to the planning officers’ report, objections had been raised by Llanengan Community Council due to concerns over the suitability of the entrance between Lon Garmon and Lon Pont Forgan, also questioning the sale of alcohol at a site promoting maritime activity.
Also citing fears over more noise and litter, community councillors raised disappointment that no Welsh name was put forward for the business.
A further public consultation also attracted similar objections, with others questioning the need for another business of this type in the village.
The supporting statement submitted by Willcock Consulting had noted: “The petrol filling station use (originating from the previous Royal Garage) has gradually declined and is now mainly for the refuelling of boats, jet skis, etc.
“It is soon to be discontinued from this location.
“Likewise, business changes over the last 12 months now question whether the most beneficial use of the forecourt (once the fuel pumps are discontinued) should be as a continued boat sales area, both in terms of the business and also to complement tourism within Abersoch.
“Consequently, ALS considers that a more useful and vibrant use for the front half of the forecourt would be for a small cafe bar to replace the existing open display and fuel uses which would work well in conjunction with the existing business but also serve the needs of holidaymakers (and local residents), especially those already using ALS’s marine services.”
But planning officers, with the application not reaching planning committee stage, fell on the side of objectors after noting a lack of proof showing a need for a new commercial unit at the site, as well as its location within a C2 flood zone.
“The development is likely to increase the use of the site by pedestrians and would result in increased conflict between pedestrians and vehicles in areas where there is insufficient provision for the protection of pedestrian safety,” their report went on to state.
“In addition, the proposed parking arrangement is inadequate for the site and is likely to lead to the relocation of parking off-site thus increasing the likelihood of inconvenience and danger on the highway.
“All relevant planning issues have been considered in determining this application but have not changed the recommendation to refuse the application.”
Abersoch has already been the site of conflict for Gwynedd Council in the past few weeks as language campaigners condemned the decision to close a Welsh language school there.
Despite receiving 211 objections and two petitions opposing the proposal to close Ysgol Abersoch at the end of this year, Gwynedd Council’s Cabinet today unanimously voted to close the school on 31 December.
The Education Department had expressed concerns about the low numbers of the school, with 76% of the school capacity empty.
But the decision has been criticised by groups including Cymdeithas yr Iaith, with spokesman Ffred Ffransis describing the authority’s approach as “blinkered” and that Abersoch was already suffering from a holiday home problem.