A LLYN farmer’s diversification bid to install 10 holiday pods has been approved by councillors against the advice of planning officers.
Meeting on Monday, Gwynedd Council’s Planning Committee had been asked to refuse the plans at Fferm Llwyndyrus in the Abererch ward, with the authority’s own experts finding the plans to be unacceptable.
But members voted by six to four to approve the plans.
The report had described the Ellis Partnership’s application as “causing a detrimental and substantial impact on the landscape and local visual amenities, as well as concerns in terms of sustainability considerations.”
Officers, believing that its isolated location would be problematic, also believed that the visual impact would be unacceptable.
Chris Williams-Ellis, a member of the public objecting to the application, told the committee that a precedent could be established on such applications in relatively isolated areas, referring to “planning creep.”
But the applicant, 27 year old Jim Ellis, said that the plans aimed to retain the character of the farm and that standing at 3.6 metres the pods would be mainly shielded.
“Farming is in a difficult place at the moment,” he added. “We have no idea what’s happening with our farm payments nor do we know how the market will act in terms of Brexit and Covid.”
“Without the cabins the dream isn’t sustainable. It will secure a future for me in my community, create work and promote Welsh produce, in turn supporting the language.”
Local councillor, Peter Read, added, “I support these plans, so much has changed for farming and every farmer has to diversify.
“The pods will be built in Wales, in Denbigh I understand, and the site can’t be seen from the main road.
“The people that stay in pods are different to caravanners, tending to leave their cars and go back and forth by bike.”
Cllr Louise Hughes, a committee member, said, “I think we’re being unfair to the applicant. Farming is getting more and more regulated by central government.
“They’re trying to make a living and it’s hard. Farmers are told to diversify and this is one way to do it.
“Tourism, whether we like it or not, is the lifeblood of our rural areas. And if we can do it in a way that fits in with local people…. I have no problems and am fully supportive.”
With Llannor Community Council supportive of the plans, Cllr Simon Glyn also said he was backing the applicants and found the officers’ objections “to only be a matter of opinion”.
“I find that officers are looking for reasons to refuse rather than to approve applications,” he added.
“You can’t find a better screened field than the one we’ve seen, and even if the pods are visible they blend in and are better than caravans.”
The plans were backed by six members with three against and two abstentions.
But as members went against the advice of officers, it’s expected that the application will be re-presented for final decision in January following a month’s “cooling off” period.