PLANS to create 13 hotel rooms at an historic country inn would “quickly” establish it as Torfaen’s “premier place to stay”, according to a planning application. 

Gary Bulmer, the owner of the Castell Y Bwch Inn which is on a lane in Henllys, leading from Cwmbran to Risca and Bettws, in Newport, has submitted a planning application to build two accommodation blocks beside the pub. 

One would have eight bedrooms, over two floors, with large ceiling to floor windows to take advantage of the views over the Afon Llwyd valley, and patio doors that would open onto a private terrace deep enough to hold a small table and chairs. The second block would have five bedrooms. 

According to the planning application the plans are vital to the economic sustainability of the existing business and will also benefit tourism in Torfaen. 

A statement submitted as part of the application says the oldest part of the Castell Y Bwch Inn likely dates back to the 17th century, with a plaque dated 1679 on a fireplace, though most of the current building is thought to have been built between 1899 and 1917. 

It is also shown as an inn on an 1872 to 1878 Ordinance Survey map which, according to the application, demonstrates it has long been used to provide accommodation. 

The inn and the local church are described as the only community buildings remaining in Castell y Bwch, with the chapel having been converted to a house, and the diversification into accommodation is described as vital to ensure it continues to trade. 

The application also says Torfaen Borough Council has previously recognised the need for greater quality tourism accommodation. 

It states: “There is currently a significant dearth of high quality accommodation within Torfaen, especially that which would attract leisure visitors rather than anyone visiting for work.” 

It says a “small number” of holiday cottages currently cater for leisure visitors with local hotels described as “amorphous, characterless, industrial” that rely on work visitors: “which leaves The Lion in Blaenavon as the only hotel within Torfaen which has sufficient character to attract a leisure visitor. 

“Consequently, almost all leisure visitors have to stay in either Newport or Abergavenny. This has been identified as an issue by the authority’s regeneration team for a number of years.” 

The application adds: “Given that this inn has some of the best views available to a visitor to Torfaen, (or at least without a healthy hike) and that it almost certainly has the best views of any publically accessible building within the county, this would appear to be by far the best location for a boutique hotel within Torfaen. 

“It is therefore considered that this proposal would have a significant positive impact upon the overall tourism offer within Torfaen and would quickly become the premier place to stay within the county.” 

At present the inn has room for 78 customers in its restaurant and employs four full-time and six part-time staff and it’s anticipated the hotel accommodation will lead to an additional two-part time posts. 

According to the application advice was sought from Torfaen council’s planning department which highlighted concerns regarding the extent of the development and car parking. 

It has proposed 57 spaces, with three electric vehicle charging spaces that could be increased in line with demand, and it is also promised to maintain a hedge to boost limited visibility at the access to the site.