Planning for when Wales is open for business again!

The sun is shining and it’s an odd reality that we are experiencing.

Snowdonia and a number of other beautiful parts of the UK experienced an influx of visitors in recent weeks. Ordinarily this would have been welcomed but not this time for reasons we all (with the exception it seems of a few) understand. The lock down could not have come at a worse time of the year for leisure and hospitality businesses. A sunny Easter will have further bated businesses who have admirably remained closed on “the season that could have been.”

Tourism is a vital part of the local economy and we have every confidence, despite political mixed messages, that it will bounce back subject to the right support being offered by the Welsh Government and the local communities of which these businesses form part.

Baileys and Partners are working with their clients to prepare for when Wales will be “open for business” again. This involves identifying what opportunities exist and how our clients obtain the necessary permissions to develop those opportunities.

In February 2019 Snowdonia National Park Authority (SNPA) published its Local Development Plan (2016 – 2031). Within this document a new policy on “Alternative Holiday Accommodation” was introduced to support small-scale alternative holiday accommodation proposals within Parc Cenedlaethol Eryri.  In addition, Supplementary Planning Guidance on Visitor Accommodation has been formally adopted by the Planning and Access Committee on the 22nd January 2020 and will now be treated as a material planning consideration for relevant proposals.

All planning applications for “Alternative Holiday Accommodation” since its introduction have been taken to the Planning and Access Committee (the planning committee) which helps give an indication of how the planning committee members consider the policy should apply, and helps facilitate a better understanding of how the planning committee is likely to determine future applications.

Several planning applications have now been considered by the planning committee allowing debate on a variety of areas including;

  • the necessity for kitchen and bathroom facilities within the accommodation and;
  • what is considered to be ‘high standard sustainable glamping’

The initial analysis is that the policy is restrictive. It also looks a little outdated with such things as a requirement for applicants to demonstrate that any alternative holiday accommodation permitted will not become the main source of income on what most know will be small agricultural units that have for a very long time being making little by way of income whilst also facing the prospect of reductions in support payments over the next few years.

Despite this, the feedback from decisions passed by the planning committee indicates that the planning committee recognise that irrespective of what the policy says – “one size does not fit all” and have, it appears, determined favourably applications that might otherwise look difficult after careful appraisal of the background and after meeting the applicants on their farms. This is positive news and the planning committee should, we believe, be congratulated on their approach.

Baileys and Partners are helping clients with a variety of planning related matters and have the expertise in house to provide clients with turnkey planning services. The clients range from existing holiday accommodation owners, owners of leisure sites and farmers who are new to tourism.

The Parc Cenedlaethol Eryri planning team are remote working and are at this point in time trying to keep the planning system functioning.  Applications are being accepted but site visits and planning committee meetings are postponed until further notice.  Please see the website for further details.

Please do get in touch if we can help you with planning matters or any other rural land management issues.

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