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The devil’s in the detail: Appeal after planning refused next to famous ‘Salem’ chapel

12 Apr 2021 3 minutes Read
The famous Salem painting by Sydney Curnow Vosper, including the devil in the shawl. Right, the Grade II listed Capel Salem at Pentre Gwynfryn, Llanbedr.

Gareth Williams, local democracy reporter

A farm waste collection business has launched a planning appeal after being denied permission to store dead farm animals near the setting for one of Wales’ most famous paintings.

December saw members of the Snowdonia National Park’s Planning Committee refuse the proposals earmarked on land known as ‘Kennels’ at Pentre Gwynfryn near Llanbedr.

The application, submitted by Anglesey-based Cymru Lȃn Cyf, had outlined a 13.5 x 9 metre building that would mainly be used to store dead animals from nearby farms, as well as demolishing existing outbuildings.

They had argued there was a need for such a facility in the area, which would be used only for refrigerated collection and transfer.

But park authority members followed the advice of officers in refusing the plans, with local concerns including the impact on nearby Capel Salem, a Grade -II listed building and the setting of Vosper’s famous 1908 painting depicting Siân Owen and other chapel-goers.

There had been 171 letters of objection sent to the park, including that of  Llanbedr Community Council which claimed that the proposals were not in keeping with plans previously approved in 2004 for a small incinerator to prepare animals that had fallen as food for the hunting dogs that were kept on the site.

Local councillors also claimed that the new plans were “totally different in character, size and use” and possessing “an industrial character on a much larger scale than the current private use”.

Their official objection said: “The site is unsuitable for a number of reasons including its location in the countryside. It is also in an area where the tourism industry is an important element of the local economy.

“Due to the nature of the intention which means a significant investment, it is clear that the collection and storage of the fallen stock service will be on a far larger scale, especially as the other centres the company has are located far away.

“There will therefore be a significant increase in the transport along a narrow and winding road.”

Decision

But Cymru Lȃn’s appeal documents to the Planning Inspectorate state that the new plans would represent a 16% reduction in operating floor space compared to the buildings proposed to be demolished.

They also say it would provide ecological gain, more landscaping, and a voluntary traffic limit set by condition.

Their original submission noted: “Since the suspension of the fallen stock operation at the site at the end of 2018, the wider area has been without a local facility for the disposal of fallen stock. Obviously, as an agricultural area, such a facility is a necessity.

“The applicant has conducted collections in the area during this period since 2018, returning to the businesses’ Gaerwen site.

“The alternative is for animal owners to transport their own animals to the Gaerwen site or the nearest alternative in Llandrindod Wells some 80 miles away.

“Therefore, returning the proposal site to use will result in the provision of a much-needed service and a reduction of road traffic in the wider National Park area.”

But national park officers’ report stated: “Due to the ‘commercial’ nature of this proposal and how it will operate in terms of vehicular movements and hours of operation, it will neither preserve nor enhance the setting of Capel Salem or the attached Caretakers cottage.”

It’s expected that Welsh Government-appointed planning inspectors will make a decision over the coming months.

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