A Pembrokeshire ‘glamping’ site – nationally famed as a place you can stay in a jet plane, UFO, speedboat, or submarine – put attractions on site without planning permission, even turning a storage area into a ‘disco chapel’.
At the September meting of Pembrokeshire County Council’s planning committee, members considered a retrospective application by Toby Rhys-Davies to change the layout and the number of holiday units at Apple Camping, Redberth, near Tenby.
A report for members, recommending conditional approval, stated: “The application has been made to regularise unauthorised development that has taken place at the Apple Camping site and to secure approval for details relating to an approved ‘buffer zone’ that were the subject of conditions on previous planning permissions relating to the site.”
A report for members said ‘regularisation’ was sought in the northern field for: two ‘Pac Man’ units, one train carriage unit, one fuselage unit, one witch’s hat unit and one ‘hobbit house’ unit, together with the retention of as-built facilities.
The southern field sought to regularise the provision of the speedboat and submarine units; together with the retention of three WC / shower / kitchen ‘blocks’, as-built foul drainage arrangements, as built external lighting arrangements and approval of landscaping details as implemented.
Approval was also sought for landscaping details associated with a ‘buffer zone’ that is proposed at the site’s boundary with an adjacent watercourse.
The report added: “It is clear that the principle of the use of both fields for holiday accommodation purposes has been allowed by reason of decisions made by the council as local planning authority (LPA) and through the appeal process.
“Officers conclude that subject to the detail of individual aspects of the application now under consideration, the principle of continued use of the land for holiday accommodation is acceptable.”
Speaking on behalf of the applicant, agent Andrew Vaughan-Harries said the “quirky tourism” venue first started a decade ago, and had grown into a “big, big success,” which has featured heavily on terrestrial TV channels and the national press.
“It’s been proving a winner, lots of visitors and lots of telly.
“However, it appears Mr Rhys-Davies got a bit carried away with his success, bringing in these different schemes without planning permission,” suggesting he, perhaps, “hasn’t ticked the right boxes”.
“Sadly, for Pembrokeshire he’s thinking of sticking it on the market,” said Mr Vaughan-Harries, before alluding to another project Mr Rhys-Davies had “in waiting”.
“If you’re going to have to sell your tourism development you’ve got to put everything in order; the ‘chapel’ building – I think the evidence is there it has been used both as a storage and as a function building – that will have to stop until the right consents are in place.
One of the objectors was local community council Jeffreyston, which raised many concerns, saying Apple Camping “has completely disregarded correct planning procedures over a considerable period”.
Among the many concerns raised were: “Apple camping has an entertainment complex site referred to as the ‘disco chapel’. This is being advertised as rented out for parties or general parties on the site.”
It raised concerns about noise pollution, the health and safety of these parties, and the impact on the wildlife in the area.
It also raised concerns about drainage from the site directly onto the highway and visual impact.
Local member Vanessa Thomas raised the council’s concerns, asking – amongst other points – that the activities of the ‘disco chapel’ reverted to storage only.
Councillor Mark Carter moved the recommendation, seconded by Councillor Jamie Adams, who said it was an “opportunity to regularise” activities on site.
Members unanimously backed the recommendation.