I am writing as a Board member of the St Davids Peninsula Community Land Trust and as a member of the NOPi steering committee who are working to counter the misinformation being broadcast by the Premier Inn and its agents – including, it seems, Cllr David Lloyd, who first introduced the Premier Inn to the landowner.

Premier Inn want to build a 63-bedroom hotel in St David’s, a small City with a population of some 1,600, and have added their proposed hotel to a previously-designed scheme for affordable homes for local people. Cllr Lloyd has written to you, stating that “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.” This is incorrect. It is recognised by the National Community Land Trust Network, that St Davids Community Land Trust would never have managed to raise funds to build 90 houses itself, let alone have been able to buy the land. One of the biggest projects by any community land trust in the UK only managed to build 12 houses.

“Seven years of preparatory work” is most misleading. St Davids Community Land Trust first met in January 2015 and wasn’t registered officially until 7th July 2015. If it hadn’t been for David Lloyd’s intervention, when he introduced Premier Inn to the landowners, Pembrokeshire Housing Association and the Trust would by now be working together, building affordable housing and units for sale, as well as potential workshop spaces. In addition, there would have been space for an extra 20 houses on the land where David Lloyd wants to see a Premier Inn.

After Glasfryn Road was widened by the County Council, the land to the west of this road became a viable proposition for the housing development, in accordance with Pembrokeshire Coast National Park’s Development Plan. This plan specifically alludes to the fact that there is already sufficient accommodation in and around St Davids to meet all the needs of visitors.

What Cllr Lloyd calls an “intervention” by NOPi was the consequence of a public meeting held at short notice in St Davids City Hall at the beginning of June 2017, soon after Premier Inn’s agents had first presented their plans for a new hotel. The City Hall was packed for the meeting, with some 200 people filling the inside and many more outside. After both sides had presented their cases, with an independent chairman, all but 14 people voted against including the hotel with the housing scheme. Cllr Lloyd would be well advised to start heeding the feelings of the vast majority of the community in the St Davids peninsula, especially considering that he was returned with a majority of only 13 votes at the last County Council elections. The least we can expect is for our County Councillor to respect the wishes and feelings of the vast majority of the community and help us to stop a Premier Inn from being built in St Davids.

His talk of match-funding for a swimming pool is a politician’s pipe dream. At least £2m capital is required for a pool, as set out in his 2015 scheme, which still did not provide for the £60,000 per year shortfall in running costs needed, which the feasibility report indicated - probably why the original pool was closed in the first place!

Our County Councillor states that the new 63-bedroom hotel would replace 55 hotel bedrooms which have been lost in the past 20, or more, years. Perhaps he has not considered that these hotels closed down because they could not afford to remain open when winter occupancy levels fall to almost single figures. Premier Inn claims that an extra 44,620 people will stay at their hotel, but this represents an 86% occupancy rate, every day of the year. If it’s so easy to obtain this level of occupancy throughout the year, just because you are a Premier Inn, what have the Wales Tourist Board and the Pembrokeshire County Council Tourism section being doing all these years?

The slender out-of-season occupancy levels of the existing accommodation providers, allow these businesses to just scrape by and survive. Premier Inn, by diverting out-of-season visitors from these existing providers, will ensure the demise of many more of these local businesses, most of whom source their supplies and provisions locally, unlike Premier Inn who will procure everything from distribution centres outside the area.

Our County Councillor talks of one proviso – “discreet screening as (does) Oriel-y-Parc, on the eastern approach to St. Davids”. The chances of successfully screening a three storey-high, 46 feet tall building, are pretty unrealistic, reflecting the Councillor’s complete ignorance of the disastrous visual impact this hotel would have. The chances of establishing trees to hide it are non-existent in the peninsula’s salt-laden winds of winter.

The fact that Cllr Lloyd’s confidence is “further boosted by the recently proposed initiative, Rediscovering Ancient Connections”, makes me realise that he is without doubt a mere politician first, and a true representative of the people last. The “promise” of £1.8 million European Objective 3 funding is only a bid. He says that the objective of the bid will be to develop out-of-peak season trade – a wonderful goal which the existing hostelries would welcome with open arms, as long as the proposed Premier Inn never gets built. If it is built, then it’ll be Premier Inn and its shareholders who will benefit from the £1.8 m investment – not the many independent local businesses. And as for the promise of funds for the area, Cllr Lloyd already promised the Community Land Trust a £155,000 loan a couple of years ago, only for it to be snatched away.

Jobs - NOPi’s economic surveys indicate that there would be greater job losses in local accommodation businesses than jobs gained. This would affect local self-employed families, many of whom have children in local schools, and some of whom may have to move away. If we can attract extra visitors to the area, why are we not letting local entrepreneurs start up local businesses to supply the needs of these extra tourists, creating real, stable, local long-term jobs for families? St Davids needs real jobs, jobs which can pay the mortgages on the new houses that are being built to enable local youngsters to be able to live and work in the area. Let’s develop these – let’s not be distracted by Premier Inn’s hollow promise of 20 full-time equivalent jobs, mostly paying the minimum wage.

Come on Cllr Lloyd! Stop knocking NOPi and start respecting the wishes of the majority of local people. In petitions, meetings, and letters of comment at the pre-application consultation stage, at least three-quarters of the local community who responded, expressed their objection to a Premier Inn in St Davids. You should listen to your electorate for a change! I am sure that the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Planning Committee will listen and reject the proposed Premier Inn, whilst supporting the much-needed housing which we all want to see built for local youngsters. The housing will go ahead with or without Premier Inn – PHA has already assured us of that.

Yours faithfully

Graham Perkins

St.DPCLT Board Member NOPi Stering Group member

Local residents since at least 1528!! Not that this matters more than a “local” who has committed to live in St.David’s in the past few years.