Business backs Sir Terry in Ryder Cup planning row

Little Bulmore Farmhouse, Celtic Manor Ryder Cup course, Newport, Wales The 17th Century listed farmhouse would have been rebuilt nearby

Business bosses in Newport say it is "ludicrous" the city council has rejected plans by billionaire Sir Terry Matthews to move an "eyesore" building.

Sir Terry, who owns the Celtic Manor Resort, wanted to move a listed farmhouse from the edge of the golf course that will host the Ryder Cup.

Councillors said the listed 17th Century farmhouse should be kept in its present state and location.

Sir Terry has called it a "slap in the face" and threatened to leave Newport.

Councillors on the planning committee turned down the entrepreneur's request.

He wants to move the property away from where it would be seen by TV cameras when the Celtic Manor Resort stages the golf tournament in October.

Planning officers had recommended the application to move the 400-year-old farmhouse be approved.

Mr Underwood chairman of City of Newport Business Club said the councillors' decision was "simply staggering".

Start Quote

This ludicrous decision must be rescinded without delay before any more damage is done to the reputation and the global image of the City of Newport and Wales”

End Quote Neil Underwood Chairman, City of Newport Business Club

The managing director of Newport-based Underwood Insurance Services said: "The ramshackle building amounts to little more than a dilapidated farmhouse with an unsightly breeze block extension tacked onto the side.

"Just what will the visiting Americans and mainland Europeans make of it when they arrive at Celtic Manor or see this blot on the landscape in their newspapers and on TV screens as they most surely will - I just can't begin to imagine.

"Wales, and Newport in particular, will simply be regarded as an international laughing stock. Is that what Newport City Council wants? I think not."

'Economic prospects'

Sir Terry's planning bid has been endorsed by David Russ, managing director of South Wales Chamber of Commerce.

He said: "Newport City Council cannot afford for a decision this small to affect the long-term economic prospects of Newport if Terry Matthews, a man of his stature, and a brand as powerful as the Celtic Manor leave Newport.

"We therefore urge Newport City Council to re-think its decision in declining the proposal."

Sir Terry was born in the maternity hospital which used to stand on the site of the Celtic Manor.

He became Wales' first billionaire after making his fortune from the telecoms industry and has ploughed millions into the Celtic Manor Resort and led the bid to bring the Ryder Cup to Wales.

Mr Underwood added: "Which other city in the UK, let alone Wales, has been the beneficiary of such substantial and concerted investment by a private individual?

'Independent'

"We should now all be looking to support Sir Terry at this time and not to turn our backs on him and pull the carpet from under him at the 11th hour.

"This ludicrous decision must be rescinded without delay before any more damage is done to the reputation and the global image of the city of Newport and Wales."

A council spokesperson said: "The planning committee is independent. Members are entitled to make the decision they believe is most appropriate after weighing up all the considerations including comments from statutory bodies."

The Ryder Cup takes place at the Celtic Manor Resort from 1-3 October.

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