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Oxwich Bay Hotel set to win battle for wedding marquee

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: June 21, 2013

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WINTER weddings are set to be given the go-ahead at a posh marquee in Gower.

Swansea Council planning officers have recommended Oxwich Bay Hotel's application for all-year round use of its large marquee for approval.

The application is not going before a council planning committee, and a spokesman for the authority said approval under delegated powers was "imminent". The approval is for all-year round use of the marquee until December 2016.

Hotel owner Ian Williams previously had permission to operate it from April 1 to October 31, and wanted to extend that period.

He has come under scrutiny from the Gower Society for not taking the marquee down during the winter, as per a planning condition, and holding weddings there when he was not supposed to.

Mr Williams has said he has used the marquee for wedding activities outside of the permitted months but insisted that he never pre-sold them as such.

The current application was not "called in" for discussion by Gower councillor Richard Lewis, who is normally very meticulous in doing so. "I don't want to play Russian roulette with somebody's business," said Mr Lewis.

The former Lord Mayor of Swansea was referring to a situation whereby councillors went against an officer recommendation and approved an application, only to see it overruled by a different committee, or full council itself.

"I am not prepared to do that," said Mr Lewis. "I want to maintain businesses and jobs."

He said the wedding industry in Gower was worth some £24million per year.

"The most important thing is jobs," he said.

Mr Lewis also asked what was wrong with using a marquee in the winter if it was there in the spring and summer.

Asked by the Post if he did not have confidence in the planning system to arrive at the right decision, he reiterated that jobs were key but that he thought Mr Williams's application would have been given consent.

"I try to call in everything in Gower," said Mr Lewis. "We've got to protect Gower.

He said he often halted the "calling in" process if he felt planning officers had made a reasonable recommendation.

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