Appeal to support needs of £20m weddings business
A GOWER councillor said the hotel at the centre of a marquee row was part of a £20million-plus wedding industry — and should be supported.
Richard Lewis said he knew the big players in the wedding sector in Gower, and felt all of them deserved backing.
Oxwich Bay Hotel has applied to Swansea Council for permission to use its marquee all year round rather than for the spring and summer months, as reported in yesterday's Post.
A document submitted as part of the planning application has put the cat among the pigeons with criticism of the Gower Society and the state of Oxwich Beach — owned by the Methuen-Campbell family of the Penrice Estate.
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Gower ward member Mr Lewis said weddings helped keep not just hotels but B&Bs and catering and hire car companies in business.
"I know most of the major players in the wedding industry in Gower — it brings in £22 to £23million a year," he said.
"Without the wedding business, a lot of the hotels would close.
"It is a huge business. The North Gower Hotel in Llanrhidian has shut. If they had gone for a wedding-type industry, they would still be open."
He added: "We don't want cowboys coming down here and ripping the place to pieces, but when you have got a highly professional wedding industry in Gower, you have got to nurture it."
Mr Lewis said he wanted to see more investment and jobs in Gower, which was why he had previously supported Oxwich Bay Hotel in its wedding marquee applications — and also Thomas Methuen- Campbell in his plans to convert a coal building on Oxwich Beach into a restaurant.
In 2011, Swansea Council's planning committee refused permission for Oxwich Bay Hotel to operate the wedding marquee during the winter months — overturning an earlier approval by a separate committee.
Gower Society chairman Malcolm Ridge has previously said it did not object when the hotel applied in 2004 to use the marquee in the summer, and December.
This planning permission, he said in a letter to the Post, was later revised to April 1 to October 31 only, with the condition that the marquee must be removed from November 1 to March 31.
"The marquee has permission for the summer only and we have never objected to this," said Mr Ridge.
"Temporary permission often becomes permanent by default if the structure remains all year round.
"If every business on Gower erected relatively low-cost marquees without planning permission to extend their businesses, where would it leave other establishments that have complied with planning laws and spent substantial sums on permanent and attractive structures?"