A 28 acre One Planet Development has been given the green light at Penally after the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park’s development control committee allowed delegated permission for the application at its meeting on Wednesday (June 10).

The plan at Lily Pond Farm, Whitewell Lane, includes a cabin, shed, livestock barn, produce barn, compost toilet, greenhouse was partly in retrospect and the local member had expressed the concerns of residents nearby.

County councillor for Penally Jonathan Preston told the virtual meeting that although he supported sustainable, environmental friendly, developments he had never seen such ‘outrage’ in the community before due to the removal of the ancient hedgerow on Whitewell Lane, stating that he “did not accept ignorance as an excuse for these actions.”

“I accept that we are dealing with a climate emergency and sustainable living is key to us achieving significant reductions in global pollution,” stated Clr. Preston.

“However, despite the obvious merits of this application I’m disappointed that I’m here to convey what can only be described as outrage amongst the local community I represent in Penally due to the removal of an ancient hedge bank on whitewall lane.

“According to the agents report the assessment was carried out by the applicant who deemed the hedge bank to be of low in plant species diversity and in poor health despite it having stood for over 100 years.

“I am not aware of any qualification the applicant has to make such an assessment,” he continued.

Quoting from the agent’s report, Clr. Preston stated: ‘The applicants have undertaken works without planning permission – including the removal of 14m of hedge bank, various fieldwork excavations, and building a trackway across a streamlet.’

“They did this without understanding the planning requirements for this work and regret the negative impacts of this work - it is not possible to ascertain whether these works would have required a tree report,” he continued.

“Planning legislation is in place to, amongst other things protect the environment.

“Despite all the best intentions this destruction of the hedgerow has outraged the local community and it is my role to ensure the committee and the wider public are aware of that.

“It is also my understanding that a One Planet Development that involves a residential structure must be deemed as ‘essential’.

“This is in place to support farms and small holdings which are remotely located. This development does note fit the criteria of being remote due to its proximity to Penally and Lydstep.

“Once again I would like to make it absolutely clear that I support sustainable development, but this is early days for One Planet applications and I ask the committee to ensure they are comfortable with development in the open countryside which might only loosely fit the criteria and if they are satisfied that it fulfils the objectives of the National Park.

“I accept that the applicants are well intended, and they have displayed an in depth knowledge of sustainable living. However due to the level of objection I have received locally and from the Penally community council I regret to say in my role as the elected member I cannot support this application,” added Clr. Preston.

The meeting was told that more than 180 metres of hedgerow was to be replanted.

Applicants Jim Reynolds and Lucy Lant who own Lilly Pond Farm - a 28 acre working horse farm growing organic vegetables on the Ridgeway, have nearly 50 years of combined experience in traditional farming methods.

OPD developments require that applicants can meet 65 per cent of their basic food needs from the land and a speaker on their behalf, Tao Wimbush, said this was already being met and there was “no doubt at all they will meet their basic income needs.”

The planning report states that “the applicants will be able to meet their needs through their farming the land with heavy horses, primarily producing wheat, oats, barley, potatoes, carrots, beans, onions and leeks. Two working horses, (and potentially two foals), a milking cow and chickens will also be kept.”

The plans include developing a sheltered garden for salad crops and herbs, a coppice for fuel and building materials, planting fruit and nut trees, wildflower meadow for bees, willow planting and also for courses to be occasionally held. Produce will also be sold from the site, on a passing by basis, or to wholesalers.

Delegated power to approve was granted subject to a number of conditions and an undertaking to tie the dwelling to the land being submitted.