In late 2020 Helen Cooksley submitted a planning application to change the use of a barn at her property at Maesnewydd near Meifod, so that it becomes a classroom, and to build another barn to keep more alpacas.
Miss Cooksley explained in her application that she already has six alpacas at the small holding, and hoped to grow a bigger herd.
The application had faced opposition from Meifod community council.
They had objected to the proposal on the grounds that it would cause a “disturbance and nuisance” and that there was no business plan lodged with the application.
Welsh Government sponsored environment body, Natural Resources Wales had also expressed concerns and pointed out that the land for animal shelter is in an official flood zone.
Powys County Council has now approved the proposal.
The authority's planning officer, Rhys Evans, explained the decision, saying: “The proposal is part of a farm diversification scheme and would re-use a suitable rural building in accordance with the requirements of policy.
“It is noted that third party correspondence has raised concern that no business plan has been submitted as part of the application.
“However, there is no requirement to submit a business plan within relevant planning policy and therefore this information has not been requested.”
On the flooding issue, Mr Evans said that as the shelter is considered a “less vulnerable development.”
The policy on C2 flood zones such as this site, is that residential developments should not be built there but other structures – such as barns – can be built there.
Mr Evans added that the development “complements” an existing tourist development without detracting “from the overall character and appearance of the area.”
Due to all of this, Mr Evans said: “It is considered that the proposed development complies with relevant planning policy and the recommendation is one of conditional consent.”
In the documents submitted in support of the application, Miss Cooksley had explained that the “business model” would be based around health and well-being.
She believes the soothing experience of feeding and taking the alpacas for walks “promotes relaxation and calm,” and will help people with long term health issues such as pain management, depression and anxiety.
Alpacas come from South America and are distantly related to camels, but are much smaller. Adult alpacas are usually less than a metre tall.
They are kept in herds that graze on the level heights of the Andes of Southern Peru, Western Bolivia, Ecuador and Northern Chile at an altitude of 3,500 to 5,000 metres above sea level.
They have been bred for their fleeces for around 5,000 years, as it has been found that the fibre is naturally water and fire resistant.