A cliffside beach house near Nefyn will be knocked down and rebuilt.
Gwynedd Council planners have approved an application to demolish Morlais Lôn at the foot of cliffs at Penrallt on the Llŷn Peninsula.
The plans will see the construction of a new dwelling in the footprint of the old building, with work to stabilise the cliffs.
The existing site includes a 1960s era flat roof white house that looks similar to an office block. The new house will include a ridge roof finished in dark zinc, and the finish of the exterior walls would be a combination of charcoal timber boards on the upper floor and natural stone on the lower floors. But the new design was also criticised by some councillors for being “no better than the previous one”. One even described it “as a dark, un-wielding lump”.
The planning committee deferred a decision when it met in July; since then a site visit had been made.
In a meeting on Monday, 11 September, members heard how a request to close public footpath No 19, Nefyn, which led down to the site from the top of the cliff, along the front of the existing building and down to the beach, had been dropped.
The proposal had called for the footpath to be re diverted, but that prompted public objections.
Following discussions, and comments from the council’s rights of way unit, Nefyn Town Council and the public, it was resolved that it was “too contentious” and the plans changed, a council report stated.
A public consultation over the new building had gathered “significant” local objections, but several letter of support were also been received.
Complaints included the design “not being in keeping with the area,” concerns over landslides, over-development, “disrupting the character of the area,” environmental and historical landscape harm, the land being “too unstable for such a building,” an “intrusive and alien development in a beautiful and sensitive area.”
The cliff area is designated as the Clogwyni Pen Llŷn Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Porthdinllaen to Porth Pistyll a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
Other objections had concerned the plans to cut down mature Jacana trees and blackthorn hedges that “have stabilised the cliffs, since the roots support the topsoil from slipping,” “the impact on ecology and wildlife, including bird nests, the effect on the AONB, as well as “turning the area into another Abersoch”.
Officers found the scheme “acceptable with conditions,” and said the proposal “satisfied the general requirements of planning policy”.
A council’s planning officer stated the matter had raised “considerable concerns locally” including matters of “safety and the stability of the cliffs”.
Regarding cliff stability, experts had recommended “appropriate measures”.
“No evidence was submitted to contradict the evidence of experts, so it must be accepted these are measures and steps are acceptable,” the officer said.
“There is some genuine concern over the stability of the cliff in the area in of the county and evidence of landslides in the past. By imposing conditions it must be accepted that what is proposed is acceptable, based on professional opinions.”
“There is a right for this house to exist…and therefore a right to change it. There was also a right to demolish and rebuild, the roof would be slightly higher being a ridged rather than flat “a clear improvement,” he said.
It was in a “unique situation,” with no similar building, and should be “considered on its own merit” Councillor Gruff Williams said “approving the application in the 60s had destroyed the historic landscape.
“We are stuck with his now, my argument is that the new building is barely any better than the one before. So many local people have objected to this application.”
But Anne Lloyd Jones proposed the committee accept the scheme, saying she felt it was “an improvement to what is there currently,” seconded by Cllr Huw Wyn Jones.
Cllr Louise Hughes said the building was “definitely of its time”.
“It doesn’t look like a house to me, more like some kind of municipal building, it’s not particularly pleasant to look at.”
She queried “de-risking” the site and “cliff stabilisation,” saying “you just don’t know what is going to happen. They don’t have a crystal ball”.
Cllr Gareth Jones added: “It is a huge building, an unwielding lump really. I am afraid people will ask how can the council approve something like this?”
In a vote, members followed officers’ recommendations to approve and the scheme was carried, 10 votes in favour, no abstentions, three against.