Community forum launched to shape plans for Black Pool Mill

A forum of Pembrokeshire community groups has been established by Bluestone to help shape the proposed restoration of the Grade II listed Black Pool Mill.

More than 20 groups have been invited to join the forum – including local community councils, Pembrokeshire Tourism, Pembrokeshire Historical Society, Natural Resources Wales, Friends of the National Park, and the Welsh Mills Society.

Representatives from some of these groups have met for the first time to help inform the sympathetic development of the Mill into an all-weather, Victorian-themed attraction with its own narrow gauge steam railway.

If given the go-ahead, it is anticipated that the development will create 80 jobs and inject £30million into the local economy over 10 years.

It is hoped that the community forum will facilitate an ongoing dialogue between all interested parties, including those with an interest in the site’s archaeology, heritage, and biodiversity.

At the meeting, representatives heard more about the vision for the Mill to become a year-round attraction for the county that complements and enhances the current tourism offering.

The group also heard about measures being taken to enhance the areas surrounding the Mill, including the reopening of a local leat walk which has been closed to the public since 2014. They also heard how, by the end of 2017, Bluestone will have contributed £150,000 to the upkeep of footpaths in Minwear and Canaston Woods for the enjoyment of the public.

Liz Weedon, Bluestone Head of Projects, said: “As our plans for Black Pool Mill progress, the forum will be an important means through which representatives from a cross-section of industries can be informed and involved at every stage.

“We are proud to be showcasing our plans to breathe new life into this very special but currently unloved building, giving it a long-term purpose and preserving it for future generations. The project centres on the celebration and preservation of history and heritage, and it’s an exciting project for the whole county, not just for staying guests of Bluestone.”

Ged Davies, Sustainability Manager at Bluestone added:  “Our aim has always been to develop Black Pool Mill sustainably and sympathetically. We’re working closely with leading heritage, ecology, and biodiversity experts to protect and enhance both the building and the site’s status as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation.

“Cultural, historic, and environmental integrity are at the heart of the project, and ensuring the local habitat is maintained and enhanced is a key part of this ambition. We’re pleased to be able to share this important journey with local groups through the forum.”

Isobel James, Chair of Llawhaden Community Council said:  “We welcome this new forum - it’s good to have the opportunity to talk in an open and responsive way to the company.”

The forum will initially meet every month.  Local groups interested in sending a representative should contact Ged Davies on 01834 869900 x 501.

The project has secured initial Listed Building Consent and will now be put forward for approval before a development committee in May. Subject to planning, it is anticipated that work will get underway later in 2017, with the Mill opening in late 2018.