Councillors to have say on Charlotte Church’s plans to convert home of Laura Ashley into wellness retreat

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Rhydoldog House near Rhayader. Picture: Google Streetview. Charlotte Church At Rhydoldog House from her Twitter page.

Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter

Welsh councillors will have a say on plans submitted by singer-songwriter Charlotte Church to turn the former home of Laura Ashley into a wellness retreat.

But the decision will ultimately be taken by a planning chief and two councillors.

At a Powys County Council Planning committee meeting on Thursday, December 1, councillors will discuss the ‘Voice of an Angel’ star’s proposal to change the use of Rhydoldog House in the Elan Valley from a residential dwelling to a wellbeing and healing retreat.

The house is a couple of miles away from Rhayader.

Proposals include converting part of barn to become artist’s studio and store and installing solar arrays as well as other associated works.

A total of 22 parking spaces would be created, including 18 for the wellbeing centre.

At least two of these parking spaces will have electric vehicle charging facilities.

The scheme was “called-in” for a decision by the committee by former county councillor for the area, Kelvyn Curry.

This follows a number of objections to the proposal, including one by Rhayader Town Council, on the grounds of highway safety.

Officer report

In her report, senior planning officer, Kate Bowen explains that the Highway Authority believe that the development will increase the traffic along narrow roads by 85 per cent.

This would lead to an “increased risk” of vehicles having to reverse and make way for others on the road, causing “conflict.”

This would also lead to the “inconveniencing” of existing properties and businesses there.

Ms Bowen said: “The Highway Authority recognises that the development does not seek to build or introduce new buildings on the site; instead, it seeks to reuse existing buildings.

“Consideration must also be given to the proposed modest highway improvements which can be secured as part of the development.”

Ms Bowen explains that this would be answered in part by the building of passing bays and widening the carriageway.

Ms Bowen said: “The Highway Authority have advised that such improvements would not only help to mitigate the effects of the development traffic, but they would also provide benefit to existing highway users.”

“Based on the advice received and subject to the use of conditions recommended by the Highway Authority, it is considered that the effect on highway safety is acceptable.”

Delegation recommended

Ms Bowen believes that the remaining objections to the proposal can also be negated by a number of conditions placed on the planning permission that the applicant would need to comply with.

Ms Bowen said: “Therefore should members be minded to approve the application, it is recommended that the final decision is delegated to the planning professional lead (Peter Morris) in consultation with the chair (Cllr Karl Lewis) and vice-chair (Cllr Gareth Jones) of the committee.”

In a planning statement to support the application, agent Llinos Hallett of Asbri Planning Ltd said: “The proposal is considered to offer a distinctive healing and mindfulness experience for its visitors and further adds a very unique offer to the county’s tourism portfolio and in turn helps indirectly support the local rural economy.”

Before work on the conversion a sustainable drainage system (SuDS) application will need to be approved.


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