9:01am Saturday 25th January 2014
THE national park’s development management committee is to have a “cooling off” period after departing from policy to approve a planning application.
Members approved a planning application to build 18 timber holiday lodges at St Ishmaels Garden Centre on Wednesday (January 22).
Permission to demolish a disused glass house and improve the existing garden centre, which remains open, was also approved.
A petition containing 450 names of residents in support of the application and a letter of support from Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb were received by the national park.
But planning officers said the application failed to meet the aims and policy of the LDP, and would harm “the special qualities within the national park”.
“The material considerations relevant in this case are not of sufficient weight to justify a departure from policy,” a report put before members stated.
Despite being recommended for refusal, members approved the application by nine votes to four with one abstention.
Pembrokeshire Coast National Park head of development Vicky Hurst said the decision was a departure from the park’s Local Development Plan (LDP) and a “cooling off” period would be required.
This means the application will be brought back to the committee at next month’s meeting. If the application is approved again then reasons will need to be given for the decision.
St Ishmaels Garden Centre co-owner Jonathan Boot said the development would have being a “huge positive visual improvement while giving a huge economic boost to the area”.
Three full time, four part-time and eight seasonal jobs are to be created and Mr Boot estimated the cabins would bring more than £250,000 into the county, based on a 20-week season with two people staying in each lodge.
Speaking on behalf of St Ishamels Community Council, John Everett said: “I’ve been on the council for 35 years and we have never faced a proposed development with so much unanimous support from every quarter.”
He added: “There seems to us to be adequate policy guidance within the LDP to support this application particularly considering the dire employment prospects in this part of the national park.”
St Ishamels county councillor Reg Owens said: “I’ve never known such overwhelming support for a development in our area.”
But Councillor Michael Williams said: “The overriding priority must be park purpose and the protection of landscape in the national park.
A previous application for the site was refused by the committee last March.
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