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News for July 20, 2024

Legal Challenge Fails: Heritage Park’s £6m Expansion Moves Forward

A legal challenge against the £6 million expansion of Heritage Park in south Pembrokeshire has been dismissed, allowing the controversial development to proceed. 

The high court ruled against the Stepaside & Pleasant Valley Residents’ Group (SPVRG Ltd), which had sought to overturn Pembrokeshire County Council’s approval of the project in November 2023.

The expansion, proposed by Heritage Leisure Development (Wales) Ltd, includes the installation of 48 holiday lodge bases, a spa facility, holiday apartments, a café, cycle hire, equestrian stables, a manège, and associated works. 

The project, situated near the historic 19th-century Stepaside ironworks and colliery, aims to create 44 jobs and enhance local amenities.

Pembrokeshire County Council initially approved the project after a ‘minded to approve’ cooling-off period, despite repeated recommendations from planning officers to refuse the application, as reported by The Western Telegraph.

The refusal was based on the Local Development Plan, noting that the site is located outside a settlement area. The plan faced significant opposition, with 245 objections and a detailed 38-page objection from SPVRG Ltd.

In February, SPVRG Ltd launched a legal challenge against the council’s decision. However, during a June 25 meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council’s planning committee, it was revealed that the high court had refused the judicial review request. The court determined that the grounds for the challenge were “not considered to be reasonably arguable.

SPVRG Ltd has a history of opposing developments at Heritage Park. The group previously launched a failed legal challenge in 2021, which resulted in the council incurring £34,000 plus VAT in external legal fees. 

Despite this, the council was awarded only £10,000 in costs from SPVRG Ltd. Following the recent legal defeat, committee chair Cllr Simon Hancock announced that the council had submitted a request for SPVRG Ltd to cover the costs incurred in defending the latest claim.

The expansion project is expected to provide a significant economic boost to the local community by creating 44 jobs. Additionally, the development aims to enhance the region’s tourism infrastructure, offering modern amenities while preserving the historical integrity of the Stepaside ironworks and colliery site.

Community reactions to the project have been mixed. Proponents argue that the expansion will invigorate the local economy and attract more visitors, while opponents raise concerns about environmental impacts and the encroachment on settlement boundaries. 

The project’s approval process and subsequent legal challenges have highlighted the tensions between development and preservation in the area.

With the legal challenge now behind them, Heritage Leisure Development (Wales) Ltd can proceed with their plans for Heritage Park. The focus will be on ensuring the development is carried out responsibly, addressing community concerns while leveraging the potential economic benefits.

The Heritage Park expansion represents a significant development for south Pembrokeshire, blending modern tourist facilities with efforts to preserve the area’s historical sites. As the project moves forward, it remains a focal point for discussions on sustainable development and community impact.

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Hi, you might find this article from Modern Campground interesting: Legal Challenge Fails: Heritage Park’s £6m Expansion Moves Forward! This is the link: https://moderncampground.com/europe/united-kingdom/legal-challenge-fails-heritage-parks-6m-expansion-moves-forward/