THE owner of a rural chapel in Carmarthenshire which dates from the early 19th Century has been told he can’t demolish it.
Villagers in Rhydcymerau, south-east of Llanybydder, who objected to the application by Nigel Smith, said they would like the chapel to be a meeting place and community shop.
They were also worried about the adjacent graveyard, where author and nationalist David John Williams, who wrote Hen Dy Ffarm (The old farmhouse), is buried.
“These were our people, and we should respect their final resting place,” said Rachel Philip, of Rhydcymerau, in an email to Carmarthenshire Council.
Mr Smith’s demolition application for the unoccupied chapel was turned down by the council’s planning department.
It said insufficient information had been provided in regards to the presence of a bat roost and the building’s proximity to nearby properties. It also said no information had been supplied as to the proposed restoration of the site.
The original chapel was built in 1813, with the current building dating from 1874.
Patricia Barker, of Rhydcymerau, said in an email to the planning department that the village had already lost a pub, school, shop and post office.
“This has left the village with nothing for the community of Rhydcymerau years ago the chapel vestry was used as a place to hold certain events and was a good meeting place for locals to meet up.”
This was echoed by another resident, Mikala Sargent, who said:
“The village has lost so many of its facilities already its such a tragedy if the chapel goes the same way.”
Mr Smith’s previous residential change of use application was rejected in March on four grounds, including highway safety. Planning officers said there was also a lack of detail about mitigation measures regarding the presence of pipistrelle bats in the chapel’s slate wall cladding.
A building survey on behalf of Mr Smith said the chapel building had been poorly maintained but that it was structurally satisfactory and could be repaired.