Bluestone gets the green light for Black Pool Mill – and plans for economic boost of £15m into new lodge investment

By Paul Evans   |   Content editor   |
Wednesday 7th October 2020 11:12 am
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Concept art for the lodges

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On Tuesday, a change of use application was approved by Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Planning Authority, paving the way for Bluestone National Park Resort to restore Black Pool Mill into a heritage restaurant and creating a cafe and exhibition space in the adjacent former cottage and forge building.

Bluestone has also today launched a pre-application consultation to build 80 new lodges at the resort. The consultation requires engagement with members of the local community and statutory consultees and encourages engagement with non-statutory bodies on the proposals.

The Narberth holiday resort employs more than 700 people and welcomed almost 155,000 visitors in 2019, with an average year-round occupancy of 97 per cent in its 344 lodges, studios and cottages.

The company works with and supports a wide range of suppliers across Wales with 65 per cent of its £7.8m expenditure being retained within its home county of Pembrokeshire.

Bluestone is determined to invest further in the business, despite the current pandemic and the challenges it is creating for the tourism industry, to expand its offering, increase local jobs and support the regional and West Wales economy – and ensure that it keeps delivering high quality breaks in an unparalleled, environmentally-conscious setting.

The Black Pool Mill heritage restaurant will be open to locals and visitors to the county, as well as Bluestone resort guests, serving lunches, cream teas and dinner throughout the year.

The upscale restaurant will be able to accommodate around 160 diners, creating over 35 year round jobs and showcasing produce from local suppliers.

The proposed lodge development, set within Bluestone’s 500 acre site, will build on the existing success of the resort.

The development will provide an additional 80 superior, environmentally sensitive, self-catered lodges. Bluestone will be investing £15m into the development, which will create and support over 250 jobs in the construction phase as well as nearly 90 operational jobs on site following the completion of the works, promoting local skills and employment.

Currently around half of Bluestone’s guests leave the resort during their break to enjoy all that Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire has to offer.

It is expected that the new lodges will increase spending in the surrounding area by up to £1m per year.

The projects represent significant investment for Bluestone and Pembrokeshire, which will contribute positively to the county’s economy and will result in direct and indirect spending elsewhere in the region.

Speaking about the approved application and Bluestone’s development plans, Liz Weedon, Head of Projects, said: “We are really pleased to have the application approved and are truly excited about our plans for Black Pool Mill.

“We will shortly begin work to restore the building, to be enjoyed once again by local people and visitors to the county. The Mill is a unique historic building that sits in a beautiful position on the Cleddau River.

“We are committed to breathing new life into the Mill whilst preserving and restoring its historic past”.  

“We are also really excited about our proposed development – which cements Bluestone’s firm commitment to further investment, job creation and supporting the wider regional economy.

“It has been a very challenging year for everyone; we proud and privileged to be based in Pembrokeshire and see real potential for the county to significantly benefit from staycation demand in the future.”

“We are looking forward to discussing our proposals on what would be a very significant investment in tourism for Pembrokeshire, Wales and the UK.”Heritage Restaurant planning approved for Black Pool Mill In February, Bluestone National Park Resort announced that it had submitted a change of use application for 19th Century Black Pool Mill, located on the edge of the Cleddau. On Tuesday, the application was approved by Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Planning Authority, paving the way to restore the Mill into a heritage restaurant and creating a cafe and exhibition space in the adjacent former cottage and forge building. The approval will now allow works to bring the building back into commercial use, building on essential maintenance undertaken on Black Pool Mill’s roof as sadly the condition of the Mill has been negatively affected by poor weather over the last few years, and ensuring the survival of the Mill for future generations. The application represents a significant investment for Bluestone and Pembrokeshire, which will contribute positively to the county’s economy and result in direct and indirect spending elsewhere in the area. The heritage restaurant will be open to locals and visitors to the county, as well as Bluestone resort guests, serving lunches, cream teas and dinner throughout the year. The upscale restaurant will be able to accommodate around 160 diners, creating over 35 year round jobs and showcasing produce from local suppliers. Bluestone will continue to work closely and receive advice and support from The Welsh Mills Society.  The original mill-machinery will be restored and kept in-situ forming an important backdrop to what Bluestone is determined to ensure is an authentic heritage dining experience.  Speaking about the Mill and its history when the application was submitted, Sir Edward Dashwood owner of Black Pool Mill, added: “Blackpool Mill has been in constant use since it was built in the 19th Century by one of my ancestors who lived at Slebech Park. “It was an important hub for the county, converting and transporting the grain grown locally and other goods. At the beginning of the 1900s the water wheel was replaced with a modern turbine, which is still in place, and this proved a far more efficient way of converting the water into power to turn the mill machinery. “My mother first opened the Mill as a tourist attraction and restaurant in the 1950s and I subsequently took over this business. It remained a delightful place to visit until economic necessity forced us to close it in the 1990s.”“I am thrilled that Bluestone have undertaken the roof and other renovations required to bring the Mill back to its former glory. “It used to be an important social hub in the county and I fully support Bluestone’s plans to bring it back to life and once more create a thriving centre and employment base in the midst of the National Park for both local and tourist visitors.”Liz Weedon, Head of Projects at Bluestone who have a 95 year lease on the building, said: “We are really pleased to have the application approved and are truly excited about our plans for Black Pool Mill. We will shortly begin work to restore the building, to be enjoyed once again by local people and visitors to the county. “The Mill is a unique historic building that sits in a beautiful position on the Cleddau River. The regeneration of the Mill will have great benefits for Pembrokeshire – we are committed to breathing new life into the Mill whilst preserving and restoring its historic past.” John Brandrick of the Welsh Mills Society added: “The Mill has significantly deteriorated over the last couple of years. “In our experience, these buildings can only survive and have a new life if there is a viable economic use. We strongly welcome this decision, which will ensure the Black Pool Mill’s future as an exciting local destination.”

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