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Bluestone’s plans for Blackpool Mill rejected

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PLANS to turn Blackpool Mill into a heritage tourism destination were turned down by members of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park at a meeting on Wednesday (Nov 8).

The Park’s Development Management Committee met to discuss the application which would have seen the Mill transformed with new events barn and light narrow gauge steam railway at a cost of £2.5m.

However, the plans were recommended for refusal by Park officers who stated that insufficient information had been submitted with the application.

Bluestone were even taken by surprise that the application had been placed on the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting after they had said that an amended application would have been submitted by the end of this month.

The Park’s officers stated that they had a duty to determine the application and the refusal allows Bluestone to come back with a fresh application.

The agent for the application, Mr Robin Williams, made a late plea asking the committee to defer the application but that was not supported.

Mr Williams added: “We have been engaging with officers in relation to ecology and highway issues. Significant progress has been made in this regard. The ecology season has just ended and we have been putting a report together which is anticipated to be completed in the next two weeks.

“We have been in regular contact with officers working towards a mid-November resubmission deadline and this came as a total surprise to find this report being presented today.

“We are confident that the reasons for refusal will be dealt with in our resubmission. Such an important application should be focussed on up to date information.

“Since the application was first considered, the membership of the committee has changed and the new members have yet to visit the site.”

Speaking against the application, Mrs Valerie Bradley said: “I’ve lived by Blackpool Mill for almost half a century and many of us have enjoyed the picturesque, unspoilt oasis full of wildlife and a stunning example of rural Pembrokeshire.

“I completely agree with the objections of Llawhaden Community Council and the concerns expressed by the National Park’s Ecologist.

“This proposal is a theft. Does Blackpool Mill have special qualities? Yes it does. Will there be light pollution? Yes there will. Biodiversity under this proposal will not be protected and it is not a sustainable design.

“It will fall out of favour and never be restored to its original beautiful state. It will not be an amenity; it will be a cheap eye-sore. It will destroy the local environment.

“The potential calendar of events is no more than a ghastly wish list and do we really need another petting zoo? As the proposal is a poor imitation of other similar established local venues I can imagine a brief life span.

“Sadly, Blackpool Mill is an easy target for in-principle development. Nathaniel Phillips, who built the Georgian Mill, would be turning in his grave.

“This proposal for a Victorian fish and chip shop, massively ugly events barn and meaningless railway and to fence it off with chain link fencing would do credit to Donald Trump.

“The Mill may be closed but it is most emphatically not unloved.”

It was mentioned that a previous site visit had been postponed and Mr Ted Sangster proposed that the application be deferred and that a site visit also be taken out but that was only supported by two other members with 11 voting against.

Mr Sangster added he was disappointed that they had not had the opportunity to visit the site and said he was also disappointed that there had been a lack of communication stating that the National Park had ‘jumped the gun’.

Cllr Michael Williams said that the site visit would be the worst possible outcome because there was no guarantee that the reports would come in the short term, adding: “We’ve got to determine it as it is. There are so many outstanding issues and this is an extremely sensitive site.”

It was also proposed that the application be refused and that was supported by 11 votes with three voting against.

Liz Weedon, Head of Projects at Bluestone, said: “Today members were pressed to make a planning decision in the full knowledge that additional information was to be presented to the authority within two weeks. As this meeting was brought forward by six weeks, we had no choice but to formally seek a deferral. Members voted against this and instead took advice to refuse the application, on the understanding that Bluestone would have the opportunity to resubmit within 12 months.

“We had been in regular contact with officers since May, thus it was a total surprise to us when without forewarning the application was scheduled for today’s meeting. We are confident that had the committee date not been brought forward, we would have been able to submit the responses that would have dealt with the draft reasons for refusal by officers.

“Decisions to approve or refuse any planning application should not be made without all of the facts.”

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Man ‘lucky to be alive’ after lorry crash

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THE CHAIR of the Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire Liberal Democrats says that he is lucky to be alive after a freak car accident in Burton last week.

Andrew Lye was driving towards the Cleddau Bridge when his car was hit by lorry’s stabiliser which had come loose and was protruding into the road.

The collision, which happened at 2.45pm on Friday (Dec 7), left Mr Lye’s car written off, and he was badly shaken.

Mr Lye was thankfully not injured.

The police are investigating the crash between his Kia Picanto and a DAF LF lorry.

Mr Lye, who is the former Council Leader in the West Wiltshire District Council, told The Herald: “I consider myself to be lucky to get out of the car in one piece.

“I didn’t see the stabiliser bar as the lorry came towards me and the first I knew of the collision was the sound of my car being torn apart and glass and plastic flying over me.

“I am glad that I wear glasses as this protected my eyes.”

The police have been contacted for a comment.

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Pembroke: School to be closed tomorrow due to ‘major leak’

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Closed: Due to a 'major leak' (pic. Martin Cavaney)

A ‘MAJOR LEAK’ has closed Ysgol Harri Tudor / Henry Tudor School in Pembroke this morning (Dec 13).

The electrical system has been affected by the leak and the classrooms are not usable.

The council have said that the school will remain closed on Friday (Dec 14) as well.

A Pembrokeshire County Council spokesperson said: “Ysgol Harri Tudor / Henry Tudor School in Pembroke is closing this morning (Thursday, 13th December) at 10.30 am because of a major leak in one of the buildings. This affected the electrical system and rendered classrooms unusable.

“All staff and pupils are safe and transport arrangements are in place.

“Please monitor Pembrokeshire County Council’s social media pages for information as to whether the school will be open tomorrow (Friday, 14th December). A decision will be taken later today.”

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Santa dog parade raises money for Greenacres

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FRIARS VAULTS in Haverfordwest hosted a Santa dog parade to raise money for Greenacres Animal Rescue on the weekend.

The event, which took place on Sunday (Dec 9), included a catwalk for dogs, hunt for treats and a raffle.

The total amount raised on the night was £110 with a further £45.50 collected through the donation box.

The winner of the best-dressed Dog was Deb and Steve Bunston with Pip, in second place was Danielle Boswell with Badger and in third place was Caitlin Davies with Denzal.

Greenacres Animal Rescue said on their Facebook page: “A huge thank you to all at Friars vaults Haverfordwest & Jamie Sid Williams for holding the fabulous fancy dress pooch party yesterday.

“A very welcome £158.50 was raised for Greenacres. Thank you all”

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