PROPOSALS to double the size of a multi-million pound holiday and residential lodge park on an historic site in Pembrokeshire are meeting with strong opposition as a date for the planning application looms.

If the development at Heritage Park at Pleasant Valley, Stepaside – alongside the community’s old ironworks – is given the go-ahead, it would include 75 extra lodges, four holiday apartments, a spa and equestrian stables.

Stepaside and Pleasant Valley Residents Group (SPVRP) was formed last year by local residents to oppose the application, whose development would be on a flood plain over old mine workings.

Said group chair Ben Morris: “The people around Pleasant Valley have come together to keep their valley ‘pleasant’ and not developed by a remotely-owned company just for profit.

“The planning application, doubling the size of the Heritage Park, may be given the go-ahead by Pembrokeshire County Council’s planning committee as early as March 10.

“The case against the proposal is based on sound planning and legal objections but planning applications often seem to achieve strange outcomes.”

The scheme is opposed by Friends of the Earth, the Woodland Trust and other environmental groups, as well as a high proportion of local residents and visitors.

The applicants, Heritage Leisure Development (Wales) Ltd., acquired the site from Pembrokeshire County Council in 2007.

Since then, the company has invested £4m in the redevelopment of Heritage Park.

Its planning application documents state: "This proposed development is intended to meet the changing needs and demands of visitors and to create a higher-quality environment, which will enable a longer tourist season.

"The Park brings significant benefits to the community, in terms of available amenities, increased employment and sponsorship for local teams and events."

Commented Mr Morris: “Our objections are to protect this small community from over-development and maintain the long-held access for local people and visitors to this heritage and wildlife area.

“If there is demand for more self-catering spaces, there are many less sensitive sites where such developments could take place.”

The residents’ group say that the development

• proposes to cover the whole area at the top of the valley with a significant development on land riddled with unmapped old coal mines and over a floodplain.

• includes around 80 accommodation units, some of which will, from historic experience in this kind of development, be used as permanent residences,

• will surround, and discourage access to, an important CADW heritage industrial site with walks, trees and wildlife.

• the car parking and access to walks and woodland, that have been enjoyed by large numbers of local people and visitors for many years, will be restricted.

• will increase light and noise pollution, which along with human activities will significantly repress wildlife such as rare bats, dormice, a wide range of shy birds – woodpeckers, owls, herons, dippers, treecreepers, etc.

• proposes to remove trees at the very time we understand the importance of rewilding our countryside and retaining mature trees.

• will overdevelop a small rural community, in a very narrow valley served by a single track road.

• is unlikely to create more than a handful of unskilled jobs.

Added Mr Morris: “The proposal goes against recently published aim by Pembrokeshire County Council to encourage tourism development 'while balancing this with the need to protect and celebrate the very features that make Pembrokeshire an attractive visitor destination'."

Local residents wanting more information, or to join SPVRG, should go to