South West Wales

St Catherine's Island fort off Tenby could open to visitors

St Catherine's Island
Image caption The fort on St Catherine's Island was first used in 1868

A Victorian fort on an island off the Pembrokeshire coast looks set to be reopened as a tourist attraction after being closed for decades.

St Catherine's Island - a landmark off the coast of Tenby - once housed a zoo but has been disused for 36 years.

A previous application to reopen it was turned down by National Park planners.

But a revised plan has been recommended for approval because of the "economic benefit" a new attraction would bring to the area.

The proposal by the Tenby Island Project, would include restoring the fort, while adding a nature walk, boat landings, shops and places to sell food and drink.

Image copyright
Image caption The building has stood empty since 1979

A Tenby landmark

  • The fort is a scheduled ancient monument and grade II-listed building
  • It was a marine fort from 1868-1870, built to protect Milford Haven
  • It was decommissioned as a fort in the early 20th century, becoming a private dwelling
  • It was brought back to military use during World War 2
  • It was used as a zoo between 1968 and 1978

The plan was initially turned down in July 2013 amid concerns about the impact on the surrounding area and a subsequent appeal to the planning inspector was also refused because it was not clear whether the fort was being used by bats.

The new plan has been submitted with the addition of a protected species survey.

Planners have recommend it for approval at the next meeting of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority's development management committee, which is due to be held later this month.

The report said the restored fort would "add to the tourist offer of Tenby by providing a new visitor attraction".

It added: "This attraction will provide economic benefit as well as protect the integrity of the historic fort by providing a new use."

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