Plans to expand a caravan park at a hamlet near St Davids, using high quality agricultural land previously used as a pitch and putt golfing facility, have been turned down by the national park.

Mr and Mrs Bill Rees sought permission for the change of use for 10 additional mobile lodges/caravans at Tretio Caravan & Camping Park, Tretio, near St Davids.

The main holiday complex currently contains 30 static holiday caravans and pitches for 10 motorhomes as well as 46 tent pitches.

The application, heard at the January 31 meeting of Pembrokeshire coast National Park’s development management committee, was recommended for refusal following a site visit by planners earlier that month.

One of the complications for the applicants was the land was deemed to be  “Best and Most Versatile land,” officers also saying the scheme – supported by St Davids City Council - was likely to have a negative impact on the special qualities of the National Park.

A number of neighbour objections have been received to the proposal, including a joint response on behalf of a number of residents, raising a variety of issues including impact on the surround area, and a historic permission requiring its reversion to agricultural use should the current use of the area cease.

A report for members said: “The applicant has stated that the site’s permission for pitch and putt golf course means that the area of land in question is previously developed land.

“Objectors have disputed this and pointed to the condition requiring its restoration for agricultural purposes should this use cease. Officers do not consider the land in question to be previously developed land.”

Reasons for refusal included the proposed extension was not considered to be well screened, the additional pitches and track would result in a visual intrusion into the landscape, and increase in car usage, and the change of the Best and Most Versatile Agricultural Land to a caravan and camping site.

Speaking at the meeting, one of the objectors, neighbour Rhodri Price-Lewis said: “Tretio is a very special place, a hamlet of seven dwellings, a real community of neighbours.

“The proposal would more than double the number of dwellings and change the whole character of the immediate area.”

He said the scheme was “unsustainable for further development,” and would be “wholly car-based,” with no public transport available.

He also raised the issue of the ‘best and most versatile’ land, describing it as “a long-term resource”.

Applicant Bill Rees, speaking at the meeting, said he was disappointed at the recommendation for refusal, and didn’t consider the visual impact a valid objection.

On the issue of ‘best’ agricultural land he said: “This has been a golf course for over 30 years; practically, on a block of land that small, it would cost a lot of money get back into agriculture.”

He told members the are would need to be levelled out, with the only access for heavy agricultural machinery through the existing campsite.

Members voted eight in favour and five against following the officer recommendation for refusal.

“Planning Policy Wales (PPW) requires that BMV agricultural land should be conserved as a finite resource for the future with considerable weight given to protecting it from development,” a report for members stated.

“Such land should only be developed if there is an overriding need for the scheme and either previously developed land or land in lower agricultural grades are unavailable.”