A developer wants councillors in Gwynedd to consider the jobs that could be created by a holiday park and industrial unit redevelopment after the scheme was savaged by officers.
Maybrook Investments, run by businessman Peter O’Dowd, wants to build Gwel y Fenai holiday village and waterpark and renovate industrial units at the site of derelict mansions Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch, and Ferodo (Friction Dynamics).
Both sites near Caernarfon have been empty for years with Ferodo held back by the multi-million pound costs to remove asbestos from the land and buildings.
Mr O’Dowd says he needs the holiday park development to fund the work at Ferodo and plans were submitted in June 2020 after a local consultation.
What do you think of the holiday park plans and Ferodo being developed? Have your say in the comments section
He says the holiday site will create 80 permanent roles with the potential of another 800 at the 120,000 sq ft of industrial space, with a window manufacturing business and vertical farming company lined up, as well as plans to manufacture lodges for the park in the factories.
But the application has not gone down well with planners who have raised 13 reasons why the scheme be should rejected by the Gwynedd council planning committee.
Mr O’Dowd said: “Gwynedd Councillors are requested to think about the jobs which the planned development of this site will deliver to their constituents and the chance to get this site cleaned up without the tax payer have to fund it.
“There have been several attempts to revive this former industrial site, which have unfortunately all have failed.
“The standout difference between the current and previous schemes is that all previous proposals required government funding, which this proposal doesn’t.”
Under the plan there would be 173 holiday lodges; 51 new build holiday flats; change of use of Plas Brereton to four holiday flats; construction of a leisure hub and the reconfiguration and refurbishment of the industrial units at Ferodo.
The application will go before the Gwynedd council planning committee on Monday.
The 13 reasons for objection – with responses from the developer and agent Cadnant Planning.
1: Welsh Language:
What officers say: It is not considered that sufficient information has been submitted as part of the application to ensure that the proposal would not adversely affect the Welsh Language.
Developer’s response: An assessment of the effects of the Proposed Development on Welsh language and has identified beneficial and neutral effects on the Welsh language. Comments from the Authority’s Language Unit dismiss the jobs created on the industrial development. This fundamentally, underestimates the contribution the proposal can make to the local economy, creation of local jobs and the future well-being of the Welsh language.
2: Loss of Employment Land
Developer’s response: This reason for refusal relates to the loss of some employment floorspace on the Ferodo site as part of the overall development.
Firstly, none of the floorspace on the Ferodo site is currently usable as employment in its current condition. Far from resulting in the loss of employment floorspace the proposal brings back int use over 120,000 sq ft of commercial/industrial floorspace which has been vacant in its entirety since 2008 and, prior to that only used partially.
3: Policy context and number of chalets
What officers say: The proposal is situated on an open and visual coastal site which forms the front elevation of extensive views of Snowdonia from the Anglesey AONB. The proposal would lead to an abundance of static caravan sites or permanent alternative camping sites and would have a detrimental visual impact on the Anglesey AONB and the local landscape. They suggest a maximum 25 units based on current policies.
Developer’s response: Having discussed the proposal at length with Gwynedd Council Officers including Senior Planning Officers over a three-year period this specific reason for refusal which points at an “in principle” policy objection to more than 25 chalet/lodge units has only been raised in formulating the committee report.
There are sites, such as the current planning application site where, at individual site level a higher number of chalets/lodges could be acceptable subject to detailed Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment and/or EIA. In this case that assessment concludes that the development can be acceptable, subject to appropriate mitigation.
4: Trunk Roads Highways Objection
What officers say: The Welsh Government’s Economy and Infrastructure Department has confirmed that it is holding objection to ensure that arrangements can be made whereby vehicles will not accumulate on the A487 trunk road at peak times and the Council’s Transport Unit is concerned about the same impact. To this end, the Local Planning Authority is not convinced that the plan would provide a safe access to the proposal.
Developer’s response: It is clear that the development will not commence until the Caernarfon by-pass has been completed and will be operational. As such is it clear that the traffic volumes on the A487 will not be such where movements to and from the site will need to rely on waiting for gaps in busy through traffic to enter and leave the site.
5: Scale of the Hub Building
What officers say: The leisure hub building which includes ancillary facilities to the holiday park, which will also be open to the public, together with 51 holiday units is substantial in bulk and height and would be fully visible above the existing trees which largely conceal existing buildings.
Developer’s response: In this case the hub building is comparable, though lower in height than the development at Victoria Dock, Caernarfon, which has no intervening screening when viewed from the AONB and lies within the essential setting of the World Heritage Site. In that case a planning balance judgment will have been made with the economic benefits of the development weighing in favour of the development.
6: Requirement for a Structural Report for Plas Brereton
Developer’s response: This suggested reason for refusal is spurious and even acknowledges that the works to Plas Brereton are minimal and could in any case be covered by a condition.
7: Impact of holiday new accommodation on existing provision
What officers say: No evidence or information was submitted regarding the impact of the new holiday units within the Plas Brereton building and the leisure hub on the accommodation already available in the area.
Developer’s response: There is clear reference to the fact that the holiday accommodation provided is of a type not available locally and does not compete with existing serviced accommodation.
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8: Impact on Town Centre Businesses.
What officers say: No information has been submitted in relation to how the facilities in the leisure hub that will be available to the public comply with Policy MAN 6 of the Gwynedd and Anglesey Joint Local Development Plan 2017 and in particular the impact of the proposal on Caernarfon town centre.
Developer’s response: The hub building provides an indoor leisure facility which cannot be accommodated on town centre sites in Caernarfon or Bangor and, due to being an essential component of the overall proposal, it cannot be disaggregated from the overall proposal. It will provide the additional benefits of an all year, wet weather attraction open to the public which is unique to the area and will not compete with or be detrimental to the viability of town centre businesses.
9:Design and Visual Appearance
What officers say: The proposal would have a detrimental effect on the characteristics of the local area, the proposal does not add to or enhance the character and appearance of the site and it does not respect its context, and because of the lack of suitable landscaping.
Developer’s response: The proposed hub building may be visible above the current tree line. However, the proposed lodges and much of the hub building and reconfigured industrial units will be mitigated by significant additional planting, the detail of which can be secured by planning conditions.
10: Noise Impact
What officers say: There is no noise assessment or information as to the effect of the proposal on the amenities of the users of Lôn Las Menai and to this end, it is considered that there is potential for a significant adverse effect to arise from the development in terms of noise and increased use of the Lôn Las Menai path.
Developer’s response: The proposed development is on a lawful industrial site where there would have been, and can still lawfully be, significant industrial activity. Construction noise can be controlled by condition requiring a Construction Environmental Management Plan prior to commencement of development.
What officers say: It is not considered that sufficient current information has been submitted as part of the application to ensure that the proposal would not adversely affect biodiversity, protected species or trees on the site.
Developer’s response: With reference to the points made about further ecology surveys; updated surveys may well be needed for licence applications, but given that the surveys were completed and submitted with the original application, well within the two year window referred to and that we have subsequently been requesting clarification on biodiversity comments for quite some time, we trust that determination can now be made based on the substantial information and surveys which you have.
12:Biodiversity and HRA
What officers say: The Council’s Biodiversity Unit has confirmed that it believes that insufficient information has been provided to enable the Local Planning Authority to undertake a Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) and to determine the likely impact on the Menai Strait and Conwy Bay SAC and the Skerries SPA.
Developer’s response: The issue in question seems to relate to the potential impact of gull displacement as far afield as the Skerries SPA and the potential for the relocated gulls to impact breeding tern colonies at Ynys Feurig, Cemlyn. The prosect of re-location as far afield as the SPA’s referred to is minimal and can be factored into your HRA.
It should also be noted that the majority of the roof of the former Ferodo building, which provides the nesting areas for gulls is to be retained/reformed in a similar manner to the existing. Mitigation can be designed into the scheme to encourage gull nesting on the retained buildings.
13: Impact on the Listed Park and Garden at Llanidan Hall
What officers say: There are significant concerns about the visual impact of the proposal from the Listed Park and Garden at Llanidan Hall, and there is insufficient information in relation to the LVIA to ensure that the proposal will not have a significant impact on the setting or views from the Park and Garden.
Developer’s response: Gwynedd Archaeological Planning Service have some concerns regarding the impact of the Gwely Fenai (Ferodo) development upon the setting of the Llanidan Hall. Some design mitigations are sought, such as potential reduction in building height and use of muted tones.
When you take the proposal as a whole, a reduction in building height of a waterpark building is not feasible. A reduction in height makes the use unviable. However, design alterations such as the use of muted tones, living walls and strengthening of the landscaping to the north can be incorporated.
Again, the height of the hub building must be viewed in its broader context. It is not of such significant height as to be a skyline feature and, in comparison to the Victoria Dock development, the wind turbines at Caernarfon Airport and the skyline student accommodation at Bangor, when viewed from Anglesey, the hub building would not be a single isolated feature of scale within the landscape.