A new pop-up campsite on the outskirts of Llandudno has been ordered to remove thirteen big bales spelling out the name of the business.
The decision has caused some backlash and left its owner confused, after he spent months preparing for the venture.
In a nod to LA’s Hollywood sign, smallholder Mark Rutherford painted each bale so that, when lined up on a hillside, they read as “Camp Llandudno”. Locals and visitors applauded the temporary sign, describing it as “awesome” and “fun”.
Conwy Council said it had received a complaint and expressed disappointment the campsite had not sought advice first. It threatened enforcement action if the sign is not removed
Mr Rutherford had planned to remove the bales on Sunday, but after receiving lots of public support, he now aims to make a last-ditch attempt to convince council officers to see “common sense”.
“There is huge demand from the public to pitch up and enjoy this lovely area we live in,” he said. “On Friday and Saturday nights we had more than 200 people here, many going into Llandudno and Conwy during the day to spend their tourism money.
“I don’t want a fight with the council and I will be happy to fall into line if they insist I remove the sign. But the council needs to understand the depth of local support for the sign and how much value this venture is bringing to the local area. The sign will be gone by the end of the month, so why remove it?”
Mr Rutherford opened the site as a means of diversifying his farm, home to a small flock of Hardy Welsh sheep. He took advantage of permitted development rights which enable landowners to open temporary ventures for 28 days each year, such as campsites, festivals, fairs and weddings. Planning consent is not usually required.
Having extended this concession to 56 days last year, to help businesses recover from Covid lockdowns, the Welsh Government is examining whether the 56-day rule should be retained permanently to help Wales make the most of the staycation boom.
Camp Llandudno, in Llanrhos, opened on Tuesday, August 2. It offered 60 camping pitches and an “old school, back-to-basics” approach with campfires and toasted marshmallows
On August 4, two days after Camp Llandudno opened, Mr Rutherford was told to remove his bale sign. It left him bemused.
“The enforcement officer told me it could distract motorists on Pentwyn Road,” he said. “But that’s kind of the point of having a sign in the first place.
“I was surprised because you see temporary signs alongside roads all the time. Next to the A470 near Llandudno Junction there’s currently a big pile of plastic-covered bales promoting Eglwysbach Show – have they been told to take it down?”
When Camp Llandudno shared news of its enforcement order on Facebook, it attracted lots of support. The post was shared more than 500 times.
"How stupid,” said a Conwy Council worker. “What harm is it doing? It brings people in and they will visit local areas and spend on food & drink. At least there they won’t be littering the countryside and starting fires.”
A Deganwy woman believes the site will help address complaints over illicit motorhome parking in Llandudno. Another local added:
“We pass this on a daily basis and absolutely love it! The site was bustling with people yesterday looking happy and having fun. What harm is the sign doing? I think it’s very creative.”
On Sunday, Mr Rutherford lined up a tractor from a neighbouring farmer, planning to remove the sign. But faced with an outpouring of support from the local community, he had second thoughts.
“Not everything fits neatly inside a box,” he said. “Sometimes you need to have a little flexibility and show some common sense. I’m hoping to have another chat with the council and hopefully common sense will prevail.”
A Conwy Council spokesperson said: "We received a complaint about this unauthorised advertising. We’re disappointed that the owner hadn’t sought advice from us and instead has proceeded to display an advertisement without consent.
"As the advertisement doesn’t have consent, we have informed the owner that he should remove the advertisement. Unauthorised advertising can be harmful to the character of the area and can also pose a threat to highways.
"If an advertisement is not removed then we may consider enforcement action. If the owner wishes to report potential breaches elsewhere, we can of course investigate, as we have done in response to the complaint made about this advertisement."