BLUESTONE has hit out at the National Park after members turned down its plans for Blackpool Mill "without all the facts."

Plans for the grade-2 listed building included restoration of the mill, a narrow gauge railway, a 792sqm events barn, a 150 space car park, cycle parking, drainage works, and landscaping.

The application was originally due to be discussed in December, but was brought before the park’s development management committee today (Wednesday) a month earlier than expected, with members voting to refuse the application.

Robin Williams, agent for Bluestone, asked for the application to be deferred to a later date so revisions could be made to it.

“This was a total surprise that the report was to be provided to you today, given that we only became aware last week that the application was being presented to you today,” he said.

“I would urge members to share my view that such an important development should be decided in light of important up to date information.”

Committee member Ted Sangster proposed deferring the application so he and other members could visit Blackpool Mill before making a decision.

“I am disappointed that the relationship with the applicant and the discussions with officers appears to have not be as co-operative as perhaps it could have been, as the applicant has told us it was a surprise when it was decided to bring this to this meeting,” he said.

But the development management committee refused the application, agreeing that a fresh application by Bluestone would be welcomed.

Bluestone will now have an opportunity to submit a new application to the national park in 12 months without any cost.

The committee also heard the concerns of Valerie Bradley, a resident living near the mill, who criticised the effect the narrow gauge railway would have on wildlife in the conservation area surrounding the mill.

National Park case officer Nicola Gandy said the £2.5m development expected to make more than £300,000 revenue a year, and would provide 45 full-time equivalent jobs in Pembrokeshire, but raised concerns about the 150 space car park, as the single track road leading to the site could become congested.

Plans to develop Blackpool Mill were originally submitted by Bluestone earlier this year and were deferred in May so amendments could be made to them.

A second application by Bluestone for a land train route between Bluestone and Blackpool Mill was also refused.

Liz Weedon, Bluestone's Head of Projects told the Western Telegraph: "Today members were pressed to make a planning decision in the full knowledge that additional information was to be presented to the authority within two weeks. As this meeting was brought forward by six weeks, we had no choice but to formally seek a deferral.

"Members voted against this and instead took advice to refuse the application, on the understanding that Bluestone would have the opportunity to resubmit within 12 months.

"We had been in regular contact with officers since May, thus it was a total surprise to us when without forewarning the application was scheduled for today’s meeting. We are confident that had the committee date not been brought forward, we would have been able to submit the responses that would have dealt with the draft reasons for refusal by officers.

"Decisions to approve or refuse any planning application should not be made without all of the facts."