Conwy Adventure Leisure: Surf Snowdonia, Dolgarrog

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An application for the UK's first 'Wavegarden' inland surf lake in North Wales.

NJL Consulting were instructed to undertake the planning strategy and technical work to support an application to create the UK's first ‘Wavegarden' inland surf lake. To be called Surf Snowdonia, it is located at an 18 hectare former aluminium works in Dolgarrog, North Wales.  

Description of the project

The planning application was split into two parts. An outline planning application for an outdoor leisure complex (including a central ‘hub’ building, accommodation and car parking) and a full planning application for infrastructure, landscaping and access works.  This was intended to allow work on site to start quickly after permission was secured.

Together the planning applications sought consent for a tourism-led surfing and water sports adventure attraction, which will use new surfing technologies and appeal to a wide range of users from across the UK.   

Key Issues

The site was previously an aluminium works which closed in 2007 resulting in significant contamination in the soil and groundwater which needed to be overcome.

The area was susceptible to some types of flooding, and had archaeological issues, due in part to the Dolgarrog Dam disaster of 1925.

Ecological challenges included a SSSI adjacent to the site and the presence on-site of both bat roosts and a population of slow worms.

Finally, the unique nature of the project meant that its noise impacts were difficult to predict, meaning it was difficult to demonstrate they had been successfully mitigated.

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Issues Resolved

The nature of the scheme meant that an Environmental Statement was required. This EIA process as crucila in assisting the Local Authority and Statutory Consultees in understanding the scheme. In particular, it enabled the Local Authority to have confidence in the scheme's ability to deal with the complex land contamination issues in site.

There were a number of benefits to splitting the application into two, particularly as it allowed the Council to focus on, and resolve, distinct issues without becoming bogged down in the wider complexities of the proposal.  For example, early engagement with Natural Resources Wales enabled the flood mitigation strategy to be agreed and signed off promptly, which then provided a platform height for other parameters to follow.

The application was ultimately decided within nine weeks of submission. For a scheme of this scale and complexity, this was a great success and was in part due to the excellent working relationship we established with the Local Authority as well as early engagement with Statutory Consultees over the infrastructure works.

Images courtesy of Planit IE