CELTIC MANOR ROW: Frantic talks to strike a deal

FRANTIC behind-the-scenes talks are under way to try to limit the potential damage to Newport's reputation following the very public falling out between Sir Terry Matthews and the council's planning committee.

A furious Sir Terry threatened to withdraw from making any further investment in Newport and even suggested he would consider selling the Celtic Manor Resort, after the committee voted against his application to move an historic, but derelict farm house which stands alongside the Ryder Cup clubhouse.

The committee went against their own officers' recommendation which would have seen the building moved brick by brick and rebuilt at another location, setting themselves on an immediate collision course with the billionaire.

What the officers felt would be an acceptable compromise in a fairly long-running disagreement, failed to satisfy the planning committee.

But those who voted against the plan stood by their decision despite business leaders and marketing experts lining up to describe the decision as "ludicrous" and to warn that the row could damage Newport's reputation with other potential investors at the precise moment the world's eyes will be on the city.

The Argus understands that as soon as the ramifications of the planning committee's decision were being reported, officers were poring over planning legislation to see if there was any way out of the impasse.

Sir Terry has also had several conversations since with Council leader Matthew Evans who described the planning committee's decision as disappointing and mystifying.

But it seems options are limited. The council cannot simply overturn a decision made by the planning committee.

The only way for the decision to be reconsidered again would for Sir Terry to appeal.

But given that the appeals process would mean any decision would be taken after the Ryder Cup had been and gone, this seems highly unlikely. Cllr Matthew Evans said the council is investigating every possible avenue, including looking at fast track procedures and fresh applications to try to get the matter resolved.

However he added: “All the options we are investigating are not going to solve the problem in the timescale we have got.”

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