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Charlotte Church’s plans for eco-friendly retreat rejected over road concerns

The singer spent £1.5 million on the former home of fashion designer Laura Ashley in the Elan Valley, Powys.

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Charlotte Church wants to transform Rhydoldog House into a carbon neutral wellbeing and healing retreat (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Charlotte Church wants to transform Rhydoldog House into a carbon neutral wellbeing and healing retreat (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Charlotte Church wants to transform Rhydoldog House into a carbon neutral wellbeing and healing retreat (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Singer Charlotte Church’s dream of opening an eco-friendly wellness retreat in the Welsh countryside hangs in the balance after highways officials objected to her plans.

The Voice of an Angel star spent £1.5 million on the former home of fashion designer Laura Ashley in the Elan Valley, Powys.

The 35-year-old plans on transforming Rhydoldog House into a carbon neutral wellbeing and healing retreat, including four log cabins in the grounds as tourist accommodation.

Agents on behalf of Ms Church have submitted a planning application to Powys County Council for approval.

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The Voice of an Angel star is hoping to open a wellness retreat in Powys (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The Voice of an Angel star is hoping to open a wellness retreat in Powys (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The Voice of an Angel star is hoping to open a wellness retreat in Powys (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

But highways officials have objected to the application due to concerns about the suitability of access to the retreat from a narrow country lane, the C1219.

They said the locations of proposed additional vehicle passing places were unsuitable and also questioned the estimated extra, daily traffic volume.

“The transport statement includes a plan showing the perceived existing and proposed additional passing places along the C1219,” a highways official wrote.

“A recent site inspection by the highway authority concluded that a large number of these locations were, in fact, within third party areas and as such could not be relied upon as formal passing places.

“Additionally, a number of the locations were simply grassed gateways which are also not acceptable.

“The applicant has proposed two additional bays to be created towards the end of the C1219, however, neither of these locations would accommodate a passing bay to adoptable standard, nor has any detail been submitted showing the construction of these bays.

Based on the above, the highway authority does not support this application, on the basis that the development as proposed, will create an unacceptable risk to highway safetyHighways officials

“Furthermore, passing place one would partially be within third party land and it is noted that notice has not been served on the landowner.”

In the application, it is estimated the retreat and log cabins would create a total of 30 vehicle movements a day – 15 arrivals and 15 departures.

“The highway authority notes the submission of trip rate data within the transport statement and, whilst its limitations with regards to available data is acknowledged, it would argue that the locations chosen are not adequately comparable to this application site,” the official said.

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“It is argued that the actual vehicle movements generated by this proposal would be significantly higher than the 22 per day quoted within the transport statement.

“Based on the above, the highway authority does not support this application, on the basis that the development as proposed, will create an unacceptable risk to highway safety.”

Natural Resources Wales also expressed its “concerns” with the application because of the “inadequate information” provided in supporting documentation.

“To overcome these concerns, you should seek further information from the applicant regarding protected sites,” the agency said.

“If this information is not provided, we would object to this planning application.

“We also advise that based on the information submitted to date, a condition regarding protected species should be attached to any planning permission granted.”

If the retreat gets the go-ahead from planners it will provide accommodation for a maximum of 17 guests for three or four-day residential courses. There will also be four one-bedroom log cabins.

Principal planner Llinos Hallett, of Asbri Planning Ltd, said in documents submitted to the council: “The client aims to restore both the buildings and the sensitive landscape setting, enhancing biodiversity and retaining and celebrating the history of the house; particularly in reference to its past ownership by the Laura Ashley family.

“The proposal contributes towards the county’s vibrant tourism economy and is based on the principles of sustainable tourism offering a quality experience.

“The wellbeing retreat will complement several existing tourist assets and is located within the recognised regional growth area of Mid-Wales which supports tourism development.

“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.”

Planning officers have set a deadline of January 25 to determine the application.

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