Answers to common questions about Gilestone Farm.
For a number of years, the Welsh Government had been in discussions with Green Man about the potential to support the growth of the wider festival brand in, and for, Wales. Green Man is a key employer in mid Wales, making a significant contribution to the local economy and providing employment both in its main festival business and in an increasing number of related ventures, which place a strong emphasis on sustainable development.
On 1 October 2021, Green Man submitted to WG an outline business plan setting out both an overview of the company’s ambitions for a sustainable future, and further details of what future site requirements entailed.
In March 2022, the Welsh Government acquired Gilestone Farm for £4.25 million against an agreed open market valuation of £4.325 million in furtherance of our economic development ambitions and to support the growth of the creative sector in Wales.
To ensure the appropriate management of the property following the acquisition, the previous owner was retained on a peppercorn rent to October 2022 in order to manage the property.
In September 2022, a Farm Business Tenancy (FBT) was agreed with the previous owner to October 2023, this time on commercial terms.
What is being proposed
The proposed activities within the business plan are centred around the following:
- creative hub
- new live experiences and gatherings
- food and beverage
- weddings and other events
There is an established history of tourism and small-scale events at Gilestone Farm, alongside a number of existing businesses and economic activity that can be enhanced to develop a creative hub, and the first rural creative hub in Wales.
The plans do stipulate though that the sustainable principles of Green Man will also be incorporated into the agricultural activity on the site and assessments will be undertaken to ensure that all activities work in harmony with the environment and not damage the biodiversity of the site. As an example, the business plan sets out that all future farming activities will use best practice in managing excess phosphates leaching into the River Usk.
Through this enterprise, the business is looking to generate £23 million for the local economy, provide at least 38 new full-time jobs and support 300 local jobs through its supply chain.
Green Man Festival
The site will not be used as a location for the Green Man Festival as it is not logical to move the current festival six miles to an undeveloped site which would disrupt the economic stability of the region. In addition, Gilestone Farm is not large enough to accommodate the Green Man Festival.
Environmental and planning concerns
Prior to the acquisition, an environmental report was provided as part of the legal and property due diligence process which referenced the presence of the Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
Respect for the natural world and environment is at the heart of the Green Man brand and this ethos will remain central to the proposed activities at Gilestone Farm. Neither the Green Man brand or Welsh Government wish to embark on a project that will damage the environment or biodiversity of the site at Gilestone Farm.
The plans stipulate that the sustainable principles of Green Man will be incorporated into all activity undertaken at the site and assessments will be undertaken to ensure that the development works in harmony with the natural environment. As an example, the business plan sets out that all future farming activities will use best practice in managing excess phosphates leaching into the River Usk.
Powys County Council, Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority and Natural Resources Wales have been engaged in the next stages and their input will be crucial to guide the process to ensure that all activities undertaken at the site do so in harmony with the natural environment.
No activities will be undertaken at the site without the required environmental and planning assessments and permissions being secured.
Nearly 50% of all government business allocated to Creative Wales since April 2022 was connected to Gilestone Farm. Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority and Powys County Council had also received significant volumes of correspondence and enquiries. In addition, the Senedd Public Accounts and Public Administration Committee (PAPAC) held an evidence session in the acquisition of the site in July 2022 and Audit Wales undertook a subsequent review and reported to the Chair of PAPAC in January 2023.
There is significant community interest in the proposals for Gilestone Farm. Some voices have expressed frustration about information provided to the community on the proposals, however Welsh Government does not believe that sharing draft plans before Welsh Ministers had made a decision on whether the plans should be considered further would be beneficial.
Now that Welsh Ministers have decided to move to the next stages of the process, community consultation work will take place with the local community, working closely with Powys County Council and Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority. This work will be undertaken through Talybont-on-Usk Community Council, as the locally elected democratic body of the locality.
Infrastructure of Talybont-on-Usk and the surrounding area
The issues of potential increases in traffic and pressures linked to the small scale events planned for Gilestone Farm have been raised with Welsh Government via both the Community Council and County Councillor.
Now that a decision has been taken by Welsh Ministers to progress to the next stages of assessment, Welsh Government officials will work with Powys County Council, Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority and Talybont-on-Usk Community Council to assess the needs of local infrastructure relevant to the development.
Prospective lease for Gilestone Farm
Welsh Ministers have now approved that formal lease negotiations will begin between Welsh Government and representatives of Green Man. These negotiations will be undertaken on a commercial basis.
Representatives of Green Man will be circulating information to local residents over the coming weeks providing more details on their proposal.
FAQs will be updated and shared with Talybont-on-Usk Community Council and on the Welsh Government website.