Neath AM wants Welsh Assembly to call in Amman Valley hotel plan
PLANS for the site of a proposed major regeneration project in the Amman Valley should be referred to the Welsh Government before any decision is made, according to one Assembly Member.
An outline planning application for the East Pit site, near Gwaun-cae-Gurwen, proposes a country park, a 120-bed hotel complex, holiday village and dive centre, and a large recreational lake, to act as a tourist hub.
The proposed project would come after work at the opencast coal site comes to an end when reserves are exhausted, in approximately five years. Before then, an extension to the opencast site has been proposed, in order to remove the last reserves of viable coal deposits.
Neath AM Gwenda Thomas has raised concerns about the move, however, and asked for all the plans to be called-in for consideration by Welsh Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development, John Griffiths AM.
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In a letter to the minister, Mrs Thomas outlines a number of issues.
She writes: "Given the site's proximity to the Brecon Beacons National Park, the proposals are likely to have a significant effect on a landscape of natural importance.
"Even prior to the submission of the application, the proposals have already created considerable controversy in the local area, and there are several factors I believe make it probable this controversy will increase.
"A number of residents and the local community council have contacted me to raise concerns over the possible extension, and the effect this will have on nearby communities.
"The colliery is a significant local employer, and the fate of jobs connected with its operation will be at stake in any decision over its future.
"The construction of man-made lakes of the dimensions proposed in the application could constitute a novel planning issue. There have been few reservoirs on this scale constructed in recent years and the possible consequences of their failure would be significant".
Firm SLR Consulting is working on the project on behalf of applicant The Lakes at Rhosaman.
SLR project director Paul Mcternan said: "We are aware the application is very complex, and nothing of its kind has been submitted before in Wales.
"The regeneration approach is totally unique, and we are not surprised the AM has requested to have it referred, and we have no issues with that, in fact, we welcome it.
"It is a very strong application, which has the potential to draw in over £14 million per annum in sustainable tourism revenue."