Moel Famau donkey-trekking business approved, despite residents’ noise complaints
A donkey-trekking business got the green light at a Denbighshire planning meeting, despite concerns from residents about noise.
Mathew Davies submitted a partly retrospective planning application to the council, seeking permission to convert redundant agricultural land for his business.
The committee heard how Mr Davies opened the business for a three-month trial during the summer, entertaining school parties and disability groups at The Paddock on Forestry Road, Llanferres, Moel Famau.
Mr Davies told councillors that he wanted to diversify his farm as his father did before him with a sawmill so his own children could continue to live in Llanferres.
Speaking at a planning committee meeting, Mr Davies said, “We were overwhelmed with the success of the trial.
“We found that the majority of visitors travelled from outside the county, and many were going on to visit other attractions in the area, such as pubs and shops.
“The trial also allowed us to employ local people on a part-time basis. We reached the final four in the best rural enterprise category at the Countryside Alliance Awards across Wales, and we were highly commended at the ceremony at the Senedd.”
He added: “The message relayed to us was clear: ventures such as ours should be celebrated for our contribution to rural economies.”
But residents were unhappy about noise from visitors.
Ian Hemming, a mental health nurse, complained: “From my garden, I can clearly hear conversations, and I’ve recognised people, and they’ve recognised me.
“Other neighbours have reported people peering into their hedges into their garden.
“All of us who live adjacent to the site value our environment.”
“As a mental health nurse, I’m aware of the benefits of home and gardens, a place of respite, and it certainly helped me through the pandemic; however, residents now face the prospect, through no choice of their own, of having this amenity taken away.”
Cllr Terry Mendies said he was concerned about a lack of toilet facilities.
“If you are going to walk a donkey for two hours, I would think toilets would be a must,” he said.
The business will be permitted to open Monday to Friday 5 pm – 8 pm, Saturdays 10 am- 3 pm and 5 pm – 8 pm, and Sundays and bank holidays 10 am – 5 pm but won’t run after dark.
Cllr Huw Hilditch-Roberts then said residents complaining about noise should know it is a tourist area, so they should expect voices to carry.
Cllr Hilditch-Roberts also said the proposed opening hours were ‘handcuffing’ the business, preventing it from opening to schools.
But planning officer Paul Griffin said the hours were proposed by the applicant but could be revisited in future. Mr Griffin added that toilets weren’t a necessity.
Cllr Huw Williams summed up the feeling in the chamber.
“This is a great tourism opportunity for Denbighshire,” he said.
“For the objectors, we’re not just closing the door on you. If you feel you have a problem with noise pollution, we have a system where we can monitor that.”
Cllr Merfyn Parry proposed the committee backed the plans, and councillors voted unanimously in favour of the application.
By Richard Evans – Local Democracy Reporter
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