Conwy Local Development Plan 2007 - 2022

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4.4 TOURISM

4.4.1 Spatial Objectives

SO5, SO8.

4.4.2 Tourism Strategy Statement

4.4.2.1 Tourism makes a vital contribution to the economy of the Plan Area. The Community Strategy – ‘One Conwy’ recognises that year-round tourist attractions are essential to the prosperity and well being of the area and the local economy. The main tourism accommodation focus lies in the traditional coastal holiday resorts. Principal attractions comprise the unique natural and built environmental assets of the Plan Area and the proximity to Snowdonia National Park. It is important not only to protect these traditional attractions and facilities and improve the overall quality of existing accommodation, but also to promote and support tourism in off-peak seasons whilst safeguarding environmental and heritage qualities. This section incorporates the necessary detailed policies to ensure that activities such as cycling, walking and environmental and heritage tourism are promoted and supported as part of a strategy that sustains the tourism industry and local communities. Development should also be in line with and take guidance from other local and national policy documents and strategies.

STRATEGIC POLICY TOU/1 – SUSTAINABLE TOURISM

The Council will promote a sustainable tourism economy by:

  1. Supporting, in principle, proposals for new high quality all-year round sustainable tourism development that diversifies the economy and encourages cross-boundary links with neighbouring authorities, in line with Policy TOU/2 – ‘New Sustainable Tourism and Recreational Development’;
  2. Resisting proposals that would result in the loss of serviced accommodation, in line with Policy TOU/3 – ‘Holiday Accommodation Zone’;
  3. Control the development of both new sites and extensions to existing sites for chalets, static and touring caravans and camping within the Plan Area, in line with Policy TOU/4 – ‘Chalet, Caravan and Camping Sites;
  4. Support, in principle, proposals to extend the holiday season in off-peak periods for existing chalets, static and touring caravans and camping sites whilst sustaining environmental and heritage qualities as set out in Policy TOU/4;
  5. Improve connectivity by supporting the delivery of improved links at Foryd Harbour, improvements to the Wales Coastal Path and through the Public Rights of Way Improvement Plan in line with Strategic Policy STR/1 – ‘Sustainable Transport, Development and Accessibility’ and Policy TOU/2;
  6. Support, in principle, the establishment of new or converted high quality (4 and 5*) hotels which broaden the range of accommodation available in line with Policy TOU/2.


4.4.2.2 The natural and built environment assets are key factors in attracting tourists into the area and need to be effectively managed and protected. However, tourism in Conwy is currently experiencing a change in demand with a decline in traditional summer family holidaying and an increasing emphasis on a wider range of activities, not solely restricted to the traditional summer months. The three main growth areas are business tourism, marine activities and short activity and speciality breaks. These growth areas need quality accommodation and facilities to ensure that tourism continues to play an important role in the Plan Area.


4.4.2.3 The traditional coastal attractions and facilities offered by places such as Llandudno, Colwyn Bay, Conwy, Rhos-on-Sea, Towyn and Kinmel Bay remain important contributors to the economy but recent trends point towards the need for a more diverse tourism base. Venue Cymru in Llandudno has undergone expansion and contributes to the overall range and quality of business-based tourism facilities offered within the Plan Area. The opportunity exists to preserve and enhance these services through the provision of new facilities and the improvement in the quality of existing facilities. This will include improving the quality of holiday accommodation and enabling the provision of a wide range of indoor and outdoor activities, with a preference towards the re-use of previously developed land.


4.4.2.4 The location of Foryd Harbour on the border between Kinmel Bay in Conwy and Rhyl in Denbighshire means its future use is in the hands of the two local authorities. This site will be safeguarded in the Development Plan for improved cycle and pedestrian links, with any future development and environmental safeguarding being carefully managed through a collaborative partnership approach.


4.4.2.5 There may be exceptional circumstances when larger tourism accommodation and attractions may be appropriate in the open countryside or other non-urban locations where they result in an all-year-round tourism facility and rural employment gain. However, development should not be at the expense of environmental quality or community interests. Well-designed schemes can often conserve or improve biodiversity and landscape quality but it is recognised that there can be negative impacts on the countryside which can lead to partial urbanisation. Therefore, Policy EMP/1 – ‘Meeting the B1, B2 & B8 Office and Industrial Employment Needs’ provides strict criteria for considering such proposals. Examples of schemes in the open countryside could include: eco-tourism, equestrian activities, mountain biking, canoeing, paint-balling and fishing as part of an integrated tourism facility. Examples of where major facilities may be acceptable in the open countryside are the former Dolgarrog Aluminium Works and Gwrych Castle, Abergele.

4.4.3 New Sustainable Tourism Developments

Policy TOU/2 – NEW SUSTAINABLE TOURISM AND RECREATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

  1. New high quality sustainable tourism and recreational development within the Urban and Rural Development Strategy Areas will only be supported provided all the following criteria are met:
  1. The proposal represents an all year-round high quality tourism offer which provides a range of tourism facilities and leisure activities;
  2. The proposal is appropriate in scale and nature to its location and demonstrates resource efficient design;
  3. The proposal is supported by evidence to demonstrate that there would be local employment benefits in terms of the number and range of jobs;
  4. The proposal is sustainably accessible and encourages the use of non-car based transport;
  5. The proposal makes use of any suitable existing buildings in preference to new build and previously developed land in preference to greenfield sites, where appropriate;
  6. The proposal would not have an unacceptable adverse impact on occupiers of neighbouring properties;
  7. The proposal would support and extend the range of facilities on offer within the County;
  8. The proposal would assist the Council’s regeneration objectives of Conwy;
  9. The proposal meets other related policies in the Plan;
  10. The proposal would not appear obtrusive in the landscape and is accompanied by a detailed landscaping scheme and, where appropriate, a Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment.
  1. New high quality holiday accommodation will only be supported where it forms an ancillary or complementary part of an existing or proposed new tourism development scheme and meets all of criteria 1 a) – j) above. There will be a presumption against the development of new static caravan sites.
  2. Land at the former Dolgarrog Aluminium Works will be safeguarded for the purposes of an all year round sustainable tourism and recreation facility.


4.4.3.1 The demand for a wide range of year-round tourism facilities impacts on seasonality. The operation of different tourism businesses at different times requires a more flexible approach. The Council will support the development and adaptation of a range of tourism facilities to accommodate this changing demand where appropriate. In such cases a professional business plan, prepared by a qualified and independent advisor/surveyor, will be required to support a planning application under the policy, demonstrating the viability of the scheme and the employment benefits, including skills development.


4.4.3.2 The traditional summer visits for a period of one or two weeks is slowly in decline and the demand for shorter breaks is on the increase, however, this change should not be seen as a constraint. Tourism levels remain set to increase by 6% per year in the UK, a target which Welsh Government is committed to meet. One way in which this can be promoted is through the provision of a wider variety of all-year facilities in both rural and coastal locations such as water-based activities, the provision of activities/facilities for short breaks and day trips, and improved connections with neighbouring authority’s facilities.


4.4.3.3 Tourism can also thrive in the rural areas where market towns, for example, can be utilised in order to attract a higher proportion of visitors. Rural areas also have the potential to integrate business diversification with tourism and the Plan will support suitable schemes in appropriate locations complying with local and national guidance.


4.4.3.4 Other forms of visitor accommodation include, for example, bed and breakfast establishments and self-catering cottages and apartments. Whilst the latter provide a valuable form of accommodation, the nature, scale, and location of new accommodation needs to be assessed carefully, to ensure that they do not conflict with other Plan objectives and sustainability principles.


4.4.3.5 The settlements within the Urban Development Strategy Area are the preferred locations for new development in order that new facilities are accessible to visitors and that new accommodation is provided where visitors can access a range of services by a choice of travel modes.


4.4.3.6 Within the Rural Development Strategy Area proposals should first look to the re-use of existing buildings and extensions to existing businesses in order to protect the countryside from inappropriate development, in line with Strategic Policy TOU/1 and Policy DP/6 – ‘National Planning Policy and Guidance’. New-build attractions and serviced accommodation could however be permitted in certain areas of the countryside if there are no sequentially preferable sites or buildings. This will enable particular development that could help extend the tourism season, provide benefit to the local community and promote greater links with Snowdonia National Park. However, ‘new-build’ un-serviced accommodation will not be permitted in the open countryside to protect the area from private holiday homes being built across the Plan Area


4.4.3.7 Visitor pressures particularly can give rise to concerns in environmentally sensitive locations. Related national guidance, strategies and studies confirm that policy needs to recognise the more restricted capacity of these areas.

4.4.4 Conversions to Tourist Accommodation

4.4.4.1 There are many existing buildings within the towns and villages which present opportunities for conversion to holiday accommodation, both serviced and self catering. In addition, there are many rural buildings becoming redundant due to modern farm practices. The conversion of such suitable buildings to holiday accommodation would contribute towards the diversification of the rural economy and contribute to the promotion of Welsh culture and, therefore, would be generally welcomed, in line with Policies EMP/6 – ‘Re-Use and Adaptation of Redundant Rural Buildings’, DP/6 – ‘National Planning Policy and Guidance’ and the Council’s occupancy conditions. For such developments an independent Business Plan should be submitted to support the planning application in line with Policy EMP/6.

4.4.5 Holiday Accommodation Zone

Policy TOU/3 – HOLIDAY ACCOMMODATION ZONE

Holiday Accommodation Zones are designated in Llandudno and shown on the proposals map. To safeguard an appropriate level of serviced accommodation for tourism, proposals for the redevelopment or conversion of existing serviced accommodation to other uses will not be permitted within the zones.


4.4.5.1 The Council aims to ensure that any decline in the level of serviced holiday accommodation, by change to alternative uses, is properly controlled.


4.4.5.2 Hotel accommodation is an important aspect of a sustainable tourism economy. The development of new hotels can be of benefit where they are improving the quality of accommodation in a specific locality. It is also important that the loss of hotels is resisted. It is important to retain hotel accommodation in the Llandudno and Deganwy area, where possible, in order to retain its unique character, vitality and appeal to tourists.


4.4.5.3 A key vacant site partly within one of the Holiday Accommodation Zones is the site of the former Pier Pavilion on North Parade. Redevelopment of this site has been long-awaited, however, there are existing technical constraints for any new proposals such as listed structures/remains. The Council is supportive of the site being redeveloped for a use which enhances the serviced Holiday Accommodation Zone whilst retaining the historic importance of the site.


4.4.5.4 The level and density of serviced accommodation will be regularly monitored in the Holiday Accommodation Zones to ensure the correct area is protected as detailed in the Implementation and Monitoring section.

4.4.6 Chalet, Caravan and Camping Sites

Policy TOU/4 – CHALET, CARAVAN AND CAMPING SITES

  1. There will be a presumption against the development of new static caravan sites. Proposals for the improvement of existing sites within the Urban Development Strategy Area will only be permitted provided that the development:
  1. Does not increase the number of static caravan or chalet units on the site, although minor extensions to the area of a site to facilitate density reduction and environmental or amenity improvements may be permitted;
  2. Promotes a higher quality holiday accommodation, facility and design;
  3. Would not appear visually obtrusive in the landscape and is accompanied by a detailed landscaping scheme and, where appropriate, a Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment;
  4. Accords with the Development Principles and other related policies within the Plan including the joint protocol on flood risk for Towyn and Kinmel Bay;
  5. Is accompanied by a Biodiversity Statement which indicates where biodiversity gains will be achieved in line with Policy NTE/3.
  1. Extensions or improvements to existing chalet, caravan and camping sites within the Rural Development Strategy Area will only be permitted providing that the development conforms to all of the following criteria:
  1. The site is within or adjacent to, and would form part of, an existing chalet, caravan and camping site;
  2. Any increase in the number of pitches or accommodation units proposed over the Plan Period is small in scale, relative to the scale and extent of existing provision within the same chalet, caravan or camping site;
  3. The scheme would not result in an unacceptable concentration of sites or pitches at any one locality or area;
  4. Suitable access can be achieved and the development does not result in an unacceptable risk to highway safety;
  5. Compliance with criteria 1. b) – e) above.

The term ‘camping site’ encompasses touring caravans, tents and yurts, whilst schemes for timber pods or alternative small structures will be assessed on their own merits in line with the above criteria.

  1. The Council will permit the extension of the holiday season for existing caravans, chalets and camping sites provided the site is suitable for such an extended use, that the extended season would not increase the consequences of an extreme flooding event, and that the development will be used only for holiday purposes.


4.4.6.1 Static and touring caravan sites as well as chalets and camp sites are an important offer of holiday accommodation, which can be crucial to the success of the tourism economy. However such sites are often seen as being visually intrusive, which is particularly apparent in the main resort areas of Towyn and Kinmel Bay where a series of sites have merged and become prominent in the landscape. Similarly, past intensification of sites has visually affected a small number of rural locations. In some areas the cumulative impact of existing sites may be considered visually obtrusive and dominant in the landscape, therefore, the Council will encourage landscaping schemes to improve and screen sites as well as reducing density. The Plan will seek to ensure that future development is permitted only where the proposal would not result in an over concentration of similar uses in the locality and where there is significant enhancement to biodiversity in the area.


4.4.6.2 For clarity the term tourist ‘attraction’ refers to a recreation or leisure offer without accommodation, whilst sites that combine elements of both accommodation and attractions are defined as a tourism ‘facility’. Individual schemes of a high design quality where both attractions are combined with accommodation will be assessed on their own merits in line with the above policy and other policies within the Plan.


4.4.6.3 The amount of land given over to self-catering accommodation in the form of static caravans and chalets is excessive in the Urban Development Strategy Area. Therefore, the Council will continue with the long established policy of resisting proposals to develop further land for additional units in these areas. This problem of saturation does not apply in the more extensive rural area. However, such development, particularly static caravans, can be obtrusive in the landscape and damaging to the character of the rural area unless strictly controlled. Whilst recognising this strict control, the Council also believes that given the right location the development of small-scale groups of high quality, purpose built, holiday chalets can be acceptable in the rural area. However, development permitted under the policy must form part of an existing hotel/motel facility, working farm or an established tourist attraction, since this would assist in retaining the enterprise and be beneficial to the rural economy.


4.4.6.4 The replacement of static caravans with woodland-lodge style chalets/cabins will be permitted where it improves the impact on the landscape. However, as with all development, proposals for any accommodation will only be allowed after it has been demonstrated that there will be no adverse impact on the integrity of the natural environment, including Natura 2000 Sites, and that biodiversity benefits have been shown in line with Policy NTE/3.


4.4.6.5 In line with Policy DP/6 and TAN15 – ‘Development and Flood Risk’, extending the holiday season to sites that are highly vulnerable to flood risk, such as the existing self catering caravan and chalet parks in the Towyn and Kinmel Bay area, will be resisted to ensure safety and limit overall risk. The Council will need to be satisfied, following consultation with Natural Resources Wales, that there is no increased risk from flooding on the application site before it will grant planning permission to extend the holiday season. The Council must also first be convinced that the presence of extra caravan-based population will not jeopardise the safety interests of permanent residents, either in the aftermath of a major flooding event, or in the event of short-notice warnings to evacuate the area.


4.4.6.6 A protocol for development in this area has been formed between the Council and Natural Resources Wales and should be given regard as to new development in the eastern part of Urban Development Strategy Area.

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