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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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Redberth: Police appeal following fatal crash

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POLICE are appealing for information following a fatal crash yesterday evening (Nov 21) on the A477 at Redberth.

The crash happened on the stretch of road between Pembroke Dock and Kilgetty and involved a red Renault Clio and Red Mazda 6.

The incident happened at approximately 6:40pm.

Tragically, the 80-year-old driver of the Clio died.

A Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson said: “At approximately 6.40pm on Tuesday, November 21, a fatal road traffic collision occurred between two vehicles on the A477 at Redberth between Pembroke Dock and Kilgetty.

“A red Renault Clio travelling towards Kilgetty, and a Red Mazda 6 travelling towards Pembroke Dock have collided, and the driver of the Clio sustained fatal injuries.

“Anyone who witnessed this incident is asked to contact PC 1049 Griffiths of the Roads Policing Unit on 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.”

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High winds could cause disruption to travel

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DRIVERS have been warned that high winds which are hitting the county today (Nov 22) may lead to the closure of the Cleddau Bridge.

Pembrokeshire County Council has said that a closure for high-sided vehicles is likely. A full closure to all vehicle is ‘less likely’, it was said.

The sustained high winds may also cause debris to be blown onto roads causing delays.

Drivers are advised to take caution at all times.

A spokesperson for Pembrokeshire County Council said: “Pembrokeshire is forecast to be hit by strong winds over the next 48 hours.

“With a view to helping road users plan any journeys during this period, and given that the disruption may extend through the peak commuter times, please be advised of the following:

“Looking at the current forecast for the bridge, it is thought likely that the bridge will be closed to high sided vehicles tomorrow morning (Wednesday, 22nd November) possibly from as early as 7 am or 8 am, and lasting through the majority of the working day untill say 5 pm or 6 pm.

“Please note that this information is indicative only and it is impossible to give any guarantees. A small change in wind direction may result in no closures being implemented.

“A full bridge closure is not anticipated, at this time.

“Road users are advised to monitor the situation carefully and adjust travel plans accordingly.

“It is stressed that the above information is based on current information and experience and provided to give maximum notice of possible disruption. However, the bridge status can change at any time, and no guarantees can be given.”

To check Cleddau Bridge closures either:

· Visit www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/bridge
· Text BRIDGE or PONT to 80039. (Texts are charged at standard network rates)

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Saundersfoot: Hampshire man admits sexual assault following plea bargain

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A MAN who was accused of raping a woman in Saundersfoot has this week admitted a charge of sexual assault (Nov 20).

Fritz Ortega, aged 35, was warned by a judge at Swansea Crown Court a prison sentence could still be the outcome.

Ortega, from Farnborough in Hampshire, had been due to go on trial today for rape, which he had denied.

The Crown Prosecution Service introduced a lesser charge of sexual assault, to which he pleaded guilty.

Nicola Powell, prosecuting, said the charge represented the full extent of Ortega’s offending as alleged by the prosecution

Ortega will be sentenced on December 11 after a probation officer has prepared a report into his background.

He was granted bail until then, but warned by Judge Heywood that prison could still be outcome.

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