The council will receive official minutes from the WG by April 27th, documenting the meeting with Fiona Stewart and key stakeholders in regards to Gilestone Farm. We will publish them immediately. We will also be sharing the questions that have been put forth by your Council to the WG throughout the past year.
In the meantime here are notes that were taken at the meeting by Chairman S. Baldwin and Cllr. Cartwright.
• A meeting was held at Theatr Bycheiniog on Friday March 17th to update on Gilestone Farm. The meeting was called by the Welsh Government and was attended by officials and elected representatives from Powys County Council including local County Councillor Anita Cartwright, Simon Baldwin as Chair of Talybont-on-Usk Community Council, and the CEO and Vice Chair of the Brecon Beacons National Parks Authority.
• The objectives of the proposal were stated as responding to the critical risks facing Powys today, being the environmental crisis and particularly a significantly ageing population. They aim to reverse the social decline and contribute to a Rural Creative Cluster, of small businesses. This responds specifically to Welsh Government objectives as laid out in the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act. Also to the Brecon Beacons National Parks key objective to ‘let nature and communities thrive’
• The meeting was the beginning of the consultation process. The Community Council will remain as a statutory consultee alongside the National Park, Powys County Council and NRW, for both licensing and planning as the project develops. This will involve a chance to feedback on specific details relating to each aspect of the scheme.
• The environmental impact will be properly assessed and managed. Details on environmental procedures will be forthcoming at a later stage. It was noted that the Green Man team have experience of sensitively managing activity on a SSSI and SAC. Welsh Government have a statutory obligation to ensure adequate protections.
• Proposals are based around enhancing the activity that already occurs on-site and visitor numbers are not expected to increase significantly from those reported by the current tenant. No new buildings are proposed.
• This involves;
1. A Creative Hub of small businesses: The businesses on-site are invited to stay, these include a marquee business, market garden, an electrician, woodworkers and training providers. Other similar businesses will be invited to fill vacant buildings and benefit from the connection to the Green Man brand. A brewery, bakery and baking school are proposed. Apprenticeships, training and jobs are expected to be created.
2. A permanent base for the Green Man Trust, the charitable arm of Green Man: This has supported 10,000 people to date from offering opportunities for young people to access training and skills to supporting local community groups, including those affected by recent flooding of the Usk.
3. Farming. To improve on existing farming activity as part of the sustainable farming scheme. This includes a move towards regenerative farming with the objective of reducing phosphates and increasing biodiversity. For example, via no-plough meadows on the floodplain.
4. Tourism. Also developing on what is already on site in terms of glamping accommodation, to create a green eco-retreat.
5. Live experience events which are ‘family friendly and based around wellbeing, science and the Arts.’ For example, partnerships with Universities to provide interactive science engagement workshops. A garden festival, talks and yoga were also mentioned. Events will be carbon neutral and powered entirely by alternative energy. Noise will be carefully managed so that outside the site it is quieter than a tractor (under 90 decibels). This will be monitored by noise level readers around the perimeter. A traffic management plan will be provided as part of the licensing process, which the Community Council will have the opportunity to scrutinise as a statutory consultee. Visitors can be managed so they do not enter the village, should the community request this. It is expected for only one weekend event to occur in 2024. This will be small in nature so that the specificities of the site and mitigation of risks can be fully understood. There are no plans to offer festivals similar to the Green Man, which will remain at Glanusk.
• All parties present including Welsh Government, the Green Man team, Powys County Council and the National Park are committed to supporting the village, given it is already a honeypot tourist destination within Wales, Powys and the National Park. It was suggested that their representatives join the community in developing a Destination Plan for the Village. For example, to look at improving local facilities and infrastructure, including investigating funding opportunities.
• All parties are equally keen to listen to the view of the Community. A roadshow style event was suggested, where residents can see the ideas presented on boards and speak to representatives of the key stakeholders. Would the Community Council like to take this offer forward?