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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 December, 2003, 17:48 GMT
Work starts on Slebech Park retreat
Slebech Park
The coach house dates back to the 18th Century
Work is well underway on a 4m project to create one of the most exclusive retreats in Wales, just outside Haverfordwest.

An 18th Century coach house in Slebech Park will form the centre of a business and leisure development that will create up to 50 jobs.

The 26-bedroom complex will include conference and exhibition facilities, a restaurant, health suite and swimming pool.

It is the brainchild of park owners Geoffrey and Georgina Philipps and was the first project in Pembrokeshire to attract European Objective One money.

It's a unique project in a very sensitive location
Gordon Reed

The Welsh Development Agency (WDA) and Wales Tourist Board have both also helped to fund it.

They say the type of business and visitor the park will attract are presently not well catered for in west Wales.

Wealthy people

Gordon Reed of the WDA said: "It's a unique project in a very sensitive location. At the end of the day this will be a five star project.

"I hope it will attract wealthy people to Slebech Park and they will spend their money in the area."

The couple are working closely with a team of specialist architects and conservationists.

Surrounded by 600 acres of protected woodland and waterways, it falls within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and protracted negotiations took place over five years before builders were allowed to move on site.

Knights Order

Park development control officer Vicki Hirst said: "This is a most important range of listed buildings in an outstanding area of the park.

"We had to take many factors into consideration. As well as considerations relating to the listed buildings, the site is a site of special scientific interest."

The park dates back to the 12th Century when it was home to the Knights Order of St John and has been associated with the Philipps' family for more than 200 years.

Nathaniel Phillips, who build his fortune through Jamaican sugar plantations, winning a duel and marrying for money bought the estate in 1795.

Then aged 65, he settled at Slebech with his 19-year-old wife, a member of the Philipps family.

The complex is set to open in the summer of 2005.

Plans for the first five-star hotel in neighbouring Carmarthenshire were approved on Wednesday.

Developers want to turn the former Plas Newydd residential home in Burry Port, into a 2 million luxury hotel.

While businesses fully back the proposal - believing it will boost the local economy - people living nearby are not so happy as they fear it will lead to extra traffic in the area.

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