A proposed £6m expansion of a holiday park at Stepaside will be decided at full council after being backed by planners a second time, despite an impassioned warning approval would ‘destroy’ the local area.
The application for the works at Heritage Park, Pleasant Valley/Stepaside, which had attracted hundreds of objections, was backed by county planners at their September meeting, and again at the October meeting, despite being continually recommended for refusal.
It had returned to the October 3 meeting after a ‘minded to approve’ cooling-off period was invoked following the September decision, as it was against officer recommendations.
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 44 jobs.
Officer grounds for refusal, based on the Local Development Plan, included the site being outside a settlement area.
At the October meeting, local member Cllr Alistair Cameron warned: “We need to value the countryside for what it is, once it’s gone it’s potentially gone forever,” adding there was an “overcapacity” of static caravans in the county already, saying that was especially true of the Stepaside area.
His concerns were echoed by Tenby councillor Michael Williams, who said: “There are overwhelming reasons to refuse this application, outline in the officers’ report.
“I appeal to members to listen to the local people; there’s an overwhelming feeling this development is inappropriate for this area,” adding: “You are going to destroy the very thing that most people come into this area for, it is called Pleasant Valley, if you allow this decision it will no longer be a ‘pleasant valley’.
“We are allowing the destruction of our natural environment, please listen to the local people, they have to live with this, and they are against it, and we have a duty to listen to them.”
Also speaking was agent Helen Ashby-Rigway, who reiterated economic benefits of the application, citing the “ripple effect” of tourism in boosting the economy.
Moving the application be approved, Councillor Brian Hall said the existing development was “probably one of the best kept sites I’ve seen,” adding: “I’m sure if this goes ahead it will match the standards of the site.”
He was seconded by Councillor Mark Carter, who said: “I feel they offer a product that Pembrokeshire can be proud of.”
The application was approved by eight votes to four, and will now be considered at a future full meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council.