An Olympic cycling hero is to be given the green light to turn his Grade II-listed house into a wedding venue – after falling in love with it when he and his new wife held their own reception there.
Tour de France star and Olympic gold medallist Geraint Thomas has applied to convert hisMonmouthshire home into a specialist venue, with councillors being recommended to approve the plans.
Cardiff-born Thomas – who struck gold in the Great Britain team pursuit in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics – married S4C presenter Sara last October but struggled to find the perfect venue for their guests, who included fellow cyclist Becky James and her rugby star boyfriend George North .
It came just over a year after Thomas won individual road race gold and time trial bronze at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
The couple found the listed St Tewdric’s House in Chepstow – and loved it so much they decided to buy the property and convert it for weddings.
The wedding of Cyclist Geraint Thomas with his wife Sara Elen Thomas. From left: George North, Adam Blythe, Luke Rowe and Matt Rowe
The mid-19th-century Italianate villa was previously listed on property website Rightmove for offers of more than £2.5m.
Neighbours have objected to the plans, citing the Thomas wedding – when the police were called because of late-night fireworks – as an example of why they are unsuitable for the site.
Farm animals and pets were reportedly frightened during that fireworks display.
But Monmouthshire council ’s tourism bosses said giving permission for the property to be turned into a wedding venue would result in an economic boost for the county. Thomas has applied for a change of use for the property, near the village of Mathern, and plans to demolish a garage and put up a roof over a courtyard at St Tewdric’s.
County tourism 'could benefit'
As many as 40 wedding receptions could be held a year at the venue, which would cater for up to 150 guests.
Monmouthshire council planning committee councillors will discuss the proposals at a meeting next week – but council officers have recommended they approve the plans.
In formal representations, the authority pointed out the average cost of a wedding in the UK in 2015 was £22,000, saying: “Increasingly couples are seeking unusual and exclusive venues which allow them to develop a unique and completely bespoke marriage/civil partnership experience.
“The proposed change of use for St Tewdric’s House could help Monmouthshire realise the potential of this opportunity.”
It added: “While wedding tourism is typically seasonal in nature, there are opportunities to capitalise on Welsh culture to extend the season and distribute the benefits of tourism more evenly through the year, for example, by promoting weddings during January around St Dwynwen’s Day (Wales’ equivalent of St Valentine’s).”
'Negative impact on the area'
It comes despite a number of objections from residents, who say the plans, if approved, would have a detrimental effect locally.
Monmouth MP David Davies said: “Some of the local residents are concerned that the plans to develop St Tewdric’s House are inappropriate for, and will have a negative impact on the area.”
But a council report dismissed as “conjecture” concerns from neighbours that drunk revellers could cause antisocial behaviour if weddings took place there.
The plans – which would include five guest bedrooms in the main house and another three in the lodge, with enough parking in place for 50 or so cars – have been recommended for approval subject to conditions.
Among them is a ban on any amplified or performed music being played any later than midnight – and a total ban on it being played outdoors.
Setting out its objections, Mathern community council said: “Mr and Mrs Thomas recently held a wedding party at the property and a coach got stuck in the narrow lane, obstructing it; the coach had to reverse back to the village of Mathern and then approach the property from the Chepstow direction.
“Fireworks were lit on that occasion at 11pm causing considerable disturbance to local residents. Complaints were made to the police relating to these fireworks.”
Neighbours also objected on the grounds the plans would result in a significant increase in traffic.
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