Mountain Biking And The Brecon Beacons National Park
Wales Outdoors was the first Mountain Bike Hire service in South and Mid Wales. Opened by Andy Lamb the Wales Outdoors owner in 1995 from his home on Sarn Helen in the Brecon Beacons National Park, just a few miles from Libanus, the Wales Outdoors Mountain Bike Hire point was stocked with some of the best reviewed mountain bikes of the time and a state of the art workshop. Andy maintained the bikes and led group rides.
There was a problem though. The Brecon Beacons National Park wanted to shut Andy's bike hire point down. They were, at the time, against mountain biking in the Brecon Beacons, believing that there would be conflict between cyclists, walkers and those horse riding.
Planning for Andy's small business, despite living on a farm and having one hundred yards from his house a holiday let farmhouse that was set up for group use, a sawmill, sheep sheds/barns and a Brecon Beacons National Park supported and funded mobile deer slaughterhouse (was a waste of money and disappeared after a couple of years with few deer being slaughtered), was turned down.
However, Andy, not one to give up easily, demanded a meeting with Martin Fitton the executive officer of the BBNP and at this meeting explained that he had been running the cycling business for a year without complaint. Permission was temporarily granted after Andy made a strong argument against the authorities planners and for the encouragement of rural business development.
Today the BBNP actively encourages mountain biking, bikers being one of the key demographics targeted on behalf of local tourism business'.
The issue here is that if a planning authority, and that is what the BBNP is, have little understanding of something, then, they are, by default, against it. Concerns of confrontations between cyclists and walkers never materialised. Time and effort dealing with planners was wasted time, effort and money.
The cottage that Andy owned at the time is now a holiday let - more about that next week...