PLANS to build a fruit store to allow for a new speciality beer to be made in Monmouthshire have been deferred over there being “too many unknowns”.

A planning application for the fruit shed on land at Gwehelog Common, near Gwehelog, went before Monmouthshire council’s planning committee last week.

The store is planned on a three-acre fruit farm, which is a working orchard with around 300 small trees.

The project plans to use the fruit to make speciality beer, according to a planning report, which says brewing will take place off the site.

Fruit from the surrounding orchard would be crushed and then stored and blended in tanks under the plans.

The National Wales: An illustration showing how the proposed fruit store could look. Picture: Tom Newman / Monmouthshire council

An illustration showing how the proposed fruit store could look. Picture: Tom Newman/Monmouthshire council

The building would be split into three areas, with an area for fruit crushing, an area for storage tanks and space to store agricultural equipment.

At a planning committee meeting on Wednesday, objector Dick Cole said the size of the proposed store was ‘disproportionate’ to the amount of fruit trees.

However Tom Newman, the applicant, said the store was designed to be “in-keeping with the surrounding area”, as well as being a sustainable project.

He said it would allow “an excellent quality” beer to be produced, which Monmouthshire could be “really proud of”.

Solar panels would be installed on the roof of the building as part of the project, which is planned to be carbon negative, according to the plans.

Cllr Su McConnel raised questions over the size of the building in a rural area.

She said it appeared to be “one enormous shed for a very small amount of apples”.

But Andrew Jones, of Monmouthshire council, said planners believe the size of the proposed store is ‘proportionate’ to its intended use.

Questions over how the waste apples would be disposed of from the site, or used, were also raised by councillor Emma Bryn.

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Cllr Jill Bond said there were “too many unknowns” to approve the application at this stage.

“While it’s a wonderful concept, a good idea and would be wonderful to do, it feels like there are too many questions,” she said.

The committee voted to defer the application, requesting more information about the justification for the size of the building and details of a waste management plan.

It will now be decided at a future Monmouthshire council planning committee meeting.

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