Plans condemned for luxury holiday site in Ogwen Valley amid claims of 'over-tourism'

Pressure group, Cylch yr Iaith, has argued that the proposed development in the Ogwen Valley in Gwynedd is "unacceptable". Credit: Media Wales

Plans to build a holiday site in north Wales have been opposed by campaigners who say the area is being over-run with tourists.

Manchester-based company, The Luxury Lodge Group Ltd, want to build 40 cabins and glamping pods in the Ogwen Valley in Gwynedd, which is home to some of Eryri National Park's biggest mountains, as well the adventure park Zip World.

Pressure group, Cylch yr Iaith, has argued that the proposed development on the land is "unacceptable". The organisation claims Gwynedd has "too many" tourist developments which can have a negative affect on neighbouring communities.

The Luxury Lodge Group Ltd has said that its company value is to integrate the local community and the Welsh language in the business.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Cylch yr Iaith said "over-provision" is the main reason for rejecting the development.

"Over-provision is part of the over-tourism that turns Gwynedd into a playground for England, and everyone knows about parts of the county where this has ruined local communities.

"Gwynedd Council's planning authority has accepted that over-provision is a relevant factor when considering a tourist planning application and a reason for rejecting it."They continued, "Gwynedd Council has accepted that this type of tourism is unsustainable because the negative effects offset the positive effects. The development must be refused.

"Gwynedd is already considered a 'tourist area', and in terms of the surrounding communities, there are already second homes and short-term holiday units. This development can only make that worse."

The language group claim the area is being damaged by "over-tourism"

It comes at a time of significant changes to policies around holiday lets and homes in Wales. From April 2023, the Welsh Government has given local authorities the power to charge up to 300% council tax as part of efforts to make it more affordable for local people to remain in communities where there are currently a lot of second homes.

Cyngor Gwynedd has agreed to increase its council tax premium on second homes, from 100% to 150%. It also agreed to keep the premium on long-term vacant houses at a rate of 100%.

On top of this, come April, holiday homes will have to be let out for more than 182 days a year and be available for let for upwards of 252 days, can pay business rates instead of council tax.

Cylch yr Iaith also disputes that the development would create jobs in the local area.

"This is a development from a company across the border," a spokesperson added. "You don't have to employ anyone local or buy anything locally. This is not a matter of creating support for local people, but of creating a profit for a company that does not mean anything to the area or the community."

  • Campaigner Howard Huws says areas with over-tourism also face high unemployment.

Howard Huws, a campaigner, agrees jobs would be created and claims such developments will actually drive young people out of the area.

He explained: "We've seen it [over-tourism] for decades but it's just becoming more and more obvious now that communities which have over-tourism are declined, the young people leave because there's no jobs for them.

"There are areas of high unemployment, areas of poverty. They're not areas of prosperity."

Jim Jones, CEO North Wales Tourism, highlighted how the industry creates 42,000 equivalent jobs and brings in more than £3 billion in the region.

He added: "We've got Welsh businesses within north Wales looking to invest, for example, in the Lake District and you can imagine, if they were being anti-Welsh business or anti-Welsh tourist, how we would feel. So really this has got to stop."

  • North Wales Tourism CEO, Jim Jones, says "this really has got to stop".

A spokesperson for The Luxury Lodge Group Ltd said: "One of our company values is to be a good neighbour and integrate ourselves in any of the communities where we develop a park.

"We will certainly be looking into ways of integrating the Welsh language into our park as much as we possibly can. It's something we are enthusiastic about, it's something we are aware of the concerns, and we would like to address those concerns by involving the Welsh language when we can."

When asked about the employment the park would bring to the area, the spokesperson said: "Once again, one of our values as a company is to integrate ourselves in the community.

"So what's really important to us is when we are recruiting staff at the park that we involve and recruit members of the community, in fact a lot of our lodges in other parks are built in Porthmadog. We try and source from as much local suppliers as possible, and when it comes to recruiting staff, we'd love to recruit from the local community. It's what we are about."

The area is home to tourist destinations like Zip World Credit: Zip World

A spokesperson for Gwynedd Council said: "As a local planning authority, Gwynedd Council treats each application individually and on its merits, considering all relevant planning issues and making decisions on applications in accordance with relevant local and national planning policies."We can confirm that revised plans and documents on planning application number C18/0767/16/LL have recently been submitted to the council, and will receive consideration in accordance with the normal planning procedure. No date has been confirmed at the moment for reporting the application to Gwynedd Council's planning committee"