A JOINT planning application by Pembrokeshire Housing Association, Millbay Homes and Premier Inn for the development of 38 homes for rent, 10 homes for shared ownership, 22 homes for open market sale and a 63-bedroom hotel on the Glasfryn Road, St Davids, is to be determined by the planning committee of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in April.

Prior to the intervention of the anti-Premier Inn campaign, NoPi, the homes were to have been developed by the St Davids Peninsula Community Land Trust, following seven years of preparatory work, with a view to employing the profits from the sale of the open market homes to match-fund the replacement of the much-lamented loss of the local swimming pool closed in June 2009.

The result of the campaign, however, has been to force the Community Land Trust to withdraw from the project causing the well laid plans to create a new pool to be abandoned.

Fortunately, the badly needed provision of affordable housing for local people remains part of the application.

Notwithstanding the devastating blow of losing what, in my view, will probably be the only chance of ever replacing the pool, along with the years of wasted work, I support the Premier Inn application.

The 63 new bedrooms would replace the 55 2/3-star hotel rooms that have been lost in recent years following the closure of Whitesands Bay Hotel, St Nons Hotel, Glan y Mor and the change in status of Twr y Felin Hotel. In addition, St Davids has also lost two leading guest houses in Alandale and Y Gorlan.

The experience of Tenby, which is wholly reliant on tourism as is St Davids, has shown that the arrival there of Premier Inn has been a major boost to trade in the town in both the accommodation and the retail sector. I am confident that the same will apply to St Davids.

My confidence is further boosted by the recently proposed initiative, ‘Rediscovering Ancient Connections’, led by Pembrokeshire County Council and supported by Wexford County Council and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. The £1.8 million European Objective 3 bid arose as a spin-off from the unsuccessful City of Culture bid.

It is aimed at attracting significant numbers of visitors to St Davids and Dewisland and to Ferns in County Wexford by telling the inspirational story of the early mediaeval saints focussing on St David and his Irish protégé St Aidan. It will deliver a range of arts and heritage tourism projects supported by targeted marketing strategies, one objective of which will be to develop out of peak season trade.

One proviso to my support for Premier Inn is that the building should have the same discreet screening as does Oriel y Parc on the eastern approach to St Davids.

With appropriate landscaping there is no reason why the hotel should intrude at all into the northern approach to the city. I urge the Park, if it is minded to approve the application, to attach this requirement as a condition of approval. A second proviso is that Premier Inn should commit to the recruitment of local staff.